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Lawsuit accuses doctors of fatal medical error

A Nebraska family is accusing two physicians and the medical facility with which they are employed of inadvertently killing a 67-year-old man due to a surgical error. The plaintifffs in a lawsuit against the medical personnel claim that the doctors mistakenly pierced the patient's colon with a chest tube while performing heart surgery at Omaha Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. That mistake allegedly caused the man to develop a serious chest infection and ultimately die.

Although the case is taking place outside of Ohio, it remains relevant for residents of the state. Ohio is home to a large number of hospitals, many of which may be responsible for patients' serious injury or death due to surgical errors. In some cases, such individuals may be able to secure monetary compensation by pursuing civil litigation. The plaintifffs in this case are seeing unspecified damages for wrongful death, negligence and the cost of their loved one's burial.

The plaintifffs assert that the patient began manifesting complications three days following heart surgery, at which time his nurses noticed oozing from his chest and significant tachycardia. When one of the man's surgeons examined him later in the day, he noted fecal matter seeping out of the man's surgical incision. A third doctor ultimately determined that the patient was suffering from sepsis and noted that he was in critical condition.

Another surgeon, not named as a defendant by the surgical error lawsuit, performed an operation aimed at repairing the patient's colon after determining that a chest tube had been placed through his colon. He reportedly discovered "obvious, frank stool" in the man's wound and washed him clean. However, the patient's condition continued to worsen after the repair, ultimately leading to his death.

The family alleges that the doctors acted negligently in putting a chest tube through the man's colon. The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants acted wrongfully in failing to return the patient to surgery for cleaning or seeking help from a medical professional with expertise in infectious diseases. The plaintifffs assert that the doctors should have assisted the other surgeon during the colon repair operation to ensure the man's incision was free of contaminants.

Courthouse News Service, "Family Claims Surgical Error Was Fatal" Joe Harris, Sep. 23, 2013

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