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Removal of chest tubes = hemorrage

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North Carolina. My father (71 and excellent overall health), had triple CABG 4 days ago. No complications in surgery or recovery room. On day 2 in the step down unit, his cathetor and drainage tubes were removed (I was there). Upon removal of the chest tubes, he immediately hemoraged (43+ pints). They reopened his chest in ICU, where he stays because there is too much swelling to close the chest.

The surgeon says that in over 4000 surgeries this has never happened to him, although he has "heard of it happening". Apparently, they say, one the the grafts attached to one of the tubes. When the tubes were ripped out the graft was torn.

Is this a known complication of CABG? If so, why aren't the tubes removed in a controlled environment such as the OR? If it is not a known complication, do that mean someone screwed up?

The surgery was performed at Duke University, well known for it's Heart Center. Being a teaching hospital, the opening and closing were done by one team, and the Attending performed the actual by-pass. When are the draining tubes placed, and what if any is the protocal for placing them?

Any suggestions for more info is also appreciated.


I am sorry about your father. I know of a case where this happened. It may be a complication of the surgery that does not happen that often. What about the consent form your father signed for surgery, do you have a copy of it? If you do, you should read it carefully to see if this is mentioned. You might want to hire an attorney who is willing to research this.

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