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Home >  News >  June, 2012

Widow Receives $500,000 Award in Fatal Bowel Perforation Case

Suit claimed nurse was negligent; anesthesiologist prematurely authorized discharge.

Published: June 20, 2012

A perforated bowel, shoddy post-op monitoring and a discharge form allegedly signed before the procedure all added up to a $500,000 jury award for the widow of a Florida man who died less than 24 hours after hernia surgery.

The patient, 43-year-old Michael McCance, underwent a laparoscopic repair of a left inguinal hernia at the Medical Partners Surgery Center in Jacksonville, Fla., on the morning of July 30, 2008. During the procedure, performed by general surgeon Kenneth Hagan, MD, Mr. McCance's bowel was perforated during dissection of the large hernia sack, according to attorneys representing Patricia McCance, Michael's wife. Just after 9:30 a.m., Mr. McCance was taken to recovery, where registered PACU nurse Dawn Bennett monitored him. Discharged shortly before 12:30 p.m. on the afternoon of his surgery, Mr. McCance experienced symptoms of sepsis early the following morning and died around 10:49 a.m., court records indicate.

Ms. McCance's wrongful death and medical malpractice action against Ms. Bennett and Medical Partners Surgery Center claims that Ms. Bennett and the facility were negligent in her husband's care and treatment.

The claim alleged that Ms. Bennett failed to properly monitor and document the patient's pain in the first 2 to 3 hours after surgery, and never informed the surgeon of Mr. McCance's hypertension and lack of response to pain medication. Ms. Bennett administered Fentanyl and Dilaudid to relieve Mr. McCance's nausea and post-op pain on 4 separate occasions in that timeframe, according to the plaintiff's attorneys. The suit further alleges that Ms. Bennett neglected to check on Mr. McCance for approximately 90 minutes at 1 point in that span, despite knowing of his persistent pain. After administering both medications for the fourth and final time, Ms. Bennett failed to monitor the patient's response, and neglected to document Mr. McCance's response to pain medication from the time of surgery to his discharge that afternoon, the suit claims.

The suit also charged that Medical Partners Surgery Center anesthesiologist and medical director — not named in the lawsuit — signed a discharge form authorizing Mr. McCance's release before the procedure was even performed. According to attorneys for Ms. McCance, the doctor argued at trial that he saw Mr. McCance before the patient was sent home, but couldn't verify that claim, testifying that the only signature on the patient's chart belonging to him was done pre-operatively.

A Florida jury ultimately awarded Ms. McCance a $500,000 verdict, finding Dr. Hagan, Medical Partners Surgery Center and Ms. Bennett negligent in their care of Mr. McCance. Ms. McCance was found to be 1% negligent as well, with the jury determining that she failed to recognize the severity of Mr. McCance's post-operative condition.

Attorneys for Ms. Bennett and Medical Partners Surgery Center did not respond to requests for comment.

Mark McGraw

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