$250k For Failing To Diagnose An Incarcerated Hernia

Wrongful Death

John H. Fisher, P.C. recovered $250,000 for the wrongful death of a 84-year old female arising from the failure to diagnose an incarcerated hernia in Orange County, New York.

Five days before her death, the patient was taken to the Emergency Department of a community hospital with complaints of a lump in her left groin for one week, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain and tenderness in the epigastric area. Additionally, the patient complained that she “can’t hold food down…and feels food not passing”. After 4 hours in the Emergency Department, the patient was diagnosed with gastritis and discharged.

Over the next five days, the patient could not eat and had vomiting and abdominal pain. On the fifth day after the visit to the Emergency Department, the patient called 911 and was transported to the Emergency Department of the local hospital. At the Emergency Department, the patient was found to be in septic shock and had a white blood cell count of 16,000. A CT scan of the abdomen/pelvis revealed “extensive bowel ischemia [lack of blood flow] with bowel wall thickening”. Shortly after her arrival to the Emergency Department, the patient died.

An autopsy revealed that the patient had a left inguinal hernia with an incarcerated small bowel, ischemic small bowel, peritonitis and sepsis. The immediate cause of death was septic shock precipitated by a gangrenous bowel, which was precipitated by suspected bowel infarction. The inguinal hernia caused a lack of blood flow to the patient’s small intestine, which led to an infection in her blood (sepsis).

The allegation in the lawsuit was that the emergency medicine physician failed to order tests to rule out an incarcerated hernia, which is a life-threatening condition. An incarcerated hernia can cause a lack of blood flow to the intestine, which in turn can lead to teh death of the intestine or “dead gut”. A CT scan of the abdomen/pelvis would have revealed the blockage of the small bowel and surgery would have removed the obstruction and restored blood flow to the small intestine. The widow was survived by two adult sons.

If you have questions about an incarcerated hernia or strangulated hernia, we will be happy to speak with you. You can call us at 845-802-0047.