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Home E-Weekly December 5, 2017

2 Deadly Bowel Perforations 2 Days Apart at Same Hospital

Published: December 4, 2017

ABDOMINAL SURGERY The patients were both undergoing different types of abdominal surgery when they suffered bowel perforation.

A nicked bowel during laparoscopic surgery is what caused 2 patients to die of sepsis 2 days apart at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, N.Y., according to separate lawsuits filed against the hospital.

The perforated bowels occurred during routine procedures — a laparoscopic ventral hernia repair and an oophorectomy, according to the suits, which were filed last month on behalf of James Keane, 70, and Ellen Feeney, 61. The suits allege that surgeons and hospital staff were negligent in their treatment of the patients and in their diagnosis of sepsis that led to both of their deaths.

The morning after his hernia repair, Mr. Keane, who stayed at the hospital overnight, started showing signs of a higher temperature and quicker pulse, both of which are signs of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), the suit said. The seriousness of his symptoms should have prompted hospital staff to notify a physician, but they didn't, the suit says.

Mr. Keane underwent exploratory surgery the next day and had an, "obvious midline small bowel hole," according to the suit. He died hours after the second surgery of an "inadvertent perforation of intestines during abdominal surgery," the suit says.

In the second case, Ms. Feeney went into the hospital for an oophorectomy and was released the same day. However, the next morning, she woke up sick with pain and vomiting. She went back to the hospital and was found to have a blood pressure of 80/40 and a fever.

"Despite being hypotensive and having a history of recent abdominal surgery, abdominal pain, not being able to eat or drink, and vomiting, the emergency department took no steps to immediately rehydrate (Ms. Feeney)," the suit says.

Nurses didn't administer intravenous fluids, antibiotics or test for septic shock, all of which they should have done, the suit says. She coded in the hospital's emergency department and shortly after, went into exploratory surgery where doctors found a hole in her small bowel. She died from septic shock and organ failure, the suit says.

Both lawsuits accuse the surgeons and the hospital of recklessness and carelessness for not taking the necessary steps to avoid bowel perforation and for not diagnosing the complications in a timely fashion.

Catholic Health, which oversees the hospital, declined to comment on the specific cases out of respect for patient privacy, but a spokesperson wrote in a statement last month that "no two surgical cases are alike, and all surgeries involve an element of risk, regardless of precautions and safety measures."

Anna Merriman

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