This case is an example of where even the most basic, uncomplicated medical procedures can go tragically wrong. Our client, a 73 year old gentleman from Lower Burrell, had been having some urinary problems. Seen by his urologist in the office, he was found to have some narrowing of his urethra that was making it difficult for him to completely empty his bladder when he urinated. So, he was scheduled for a simple outpatient procedure, an urethrotomy, where this narrowing, or stricture, could be dilated or widened. It is a procedure that takes only minutes under IV sedation. An urethrotomy is similar to the more common and recognizable procedure, the colonoscopy, except with a smaller scope on a different body part. Our client arrived early one morning at a Pittsburgh hospital located in the eastern suburbs. The entire process was only supposed to take a couple hours, and his wife and daughter accompanied him to the hospital, as their plan was to have lunch afterwards.
Unfortunately, during the procedure, the urologist, while extending the scope, tore through not only the lining of our client’s urethra, but also our client’s rectum. What was a simple procedure had become a medical emergency as a tore rectum represented a significant risk of fecal contamination and infection. It required our client to under immediate, major colo-rectal and abdominal surgery to repair the damage. To make matters worse, while recuperating in the hospital from this surgery, our client developed a small bowel obstruction that was not timely diagnosed. It caused him to vomit food and liquid into his lungs, resulting in aspiration pneumonia and respiratory failure. Ultimately, our client become septic and developed multi-organ system failure. By the end, what was supposed to be an outpatient procedure turned into a month long horror for our client and his family that culminated in his death.
A wrongful death action was filed in Allegheny County against the hospital and the physicians whose negligence caused his death. Before the case went to trial, a six figure settlement was reached.
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