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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Death due to negligence in diagnosis of Gallstones

    Last July 13, my 27 year old sister went to the doctor with abdominal pain. He sent her home with pain killers without running any tests that I am aware of. Later that night, she threw up and the pain was so bad that she went to the emergency room. After tests were ran it was discovered her pancrease was three times its normal size. We were told a gallstone was lodged in her pancreatic duct causing bile to go into her pancrease. The hospital did nothing other than give her an IV and pain killers for a day. They said they could not operate to remove the stone until the infection came down. Around 1-2am on July 15 - she was life flighted to another hospital. We believe the stone passed and released all of the toxins into her body. Her blood pressure dropped. The hospital she was sent to put her in the cardiac intensive care unit. We were told she had developed pancreatitis. She was put on a breathing tube, kept sedated, and dialysis was ran on her daily. We were told it would be a slow process, but she seemed to be doing better. On July 24 my sister died. We were told that she developed a blood clot and overnight it moved causing her heart to stop. They were able to start it beating again and kept her alive on the machines until we made it there. At age 27 someone should not die from a gallstone. I am wondering what the standard procedures are for doctors in a situations like this and if she suffered wrongful death due to negligence.What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    There's simply to much you don't know about your sister's case (and therefore we don't know) for anyone to give you a reasonable idea of whether or not you have a case.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    I am VERY sorry for your loss. I believe that a thorough investigation for the cause of her death must be demanded and then a full investigation as how it could have been prevented would be next.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Philadelphia, PA
    The time from her first presenting symptom to the catastrophic event was less then 2 days. She went to the ER the same day of her first consult with the doctor when her pain worsened. It's unlikely that her being admitted to the hospital a few hours earlier would have made much of a difference in the outcome, and depending on what her doctor's exam revealed, his treatment may have been perfectly appropriate for her presenting symptoms. But she didn't develop the infection in those few hours, it was already there and growing. Even if you can show that her doctor failed to meet the standard of care for her symptoms, it would be very difficult to prove that her death was due solely to that breech and not to her underlying very serious, very aggressive illness.

    Your sister's next of kin (which would be first husband if married, then parents if they are alive, then siblings) should obtain her complete medical records and consult an attorney to see if a viable case exists. But be prepared for the answer to be either no malpractice occurred, or no damages which were due solely to the malpractice if there was any.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by Roula View Post
    I am VERY sorry for your loss. I believe that a thorough investigation for the cause of her death must be demanded and then a full investigation as how it could have been prevented would be next.
    The OP does not need such a response; that being one without any basis of fact or understanding of pancreatitis.

    I, too, am sorry for your loss and I understand that you are seeking to find some sense in all of this.

    Pancreatitis of the severity you described is frighteningly serious. The odds of your sister's recovering were far less than the odds that the outcome would be as it was.

    In your description of events, I see nothing to indicate medical malpractice or damages that could have been avoided.

    If there is an area of concern, it would be during the time the gallstone's blocking the duct went undiagnosed. The best chance your sister had was to have been diagnosed way before her pancreas was insulted to such a serious degree.

    Again, I am sorry for your loss.

  6. #6
    Removing the stone probably wouldn't have changed the outcome since your sister deteriorated so rapidly.

    Most of the time when a patient presents with pancreatitis the only treatment is fluids, nothing by mouth, pain meds and antibiotics (if there is signs of infection). Hopefully your sister got some kind of imaging test once in the ER (CT scan, ultrasound) to determine if the stone was still lodged in the common bile duct. It may have passed on its own but, if it was still lodged there might have been talk of doing a scope since sometimes that can retrive the stone. That doesn't mean she would have gotten better since it sounds like she was septic and endoscopy can often cause the pancreatis to become more angry and inflammed.

    You are incorrect in saying that the stone released toxins into her body. If the stone passed, it would have been a positive because it was no longer blocking the bile duct, causing further pancreatic inflammation.

    Pancreatitis can be extremely deadly, extremely fast. The mortality rate is 10-15%, more with biliary cause of pancreatitis (such as stones).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Diagnosing a common bile duct stone can be very difficult with imaging (esp ultrasound). Endoscopy (ERCP) is often needed for diagnosis and treatment and may not available in all hospitals.

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