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Woman Bleeds Out in Emergency Surgery After Surgeon Fails to Fix Perforated Intestine

Multiple doctors at an Ohio hospital demonstrated a fatal cascade of carelessness for what should have been a routine procedure. A 72-year-old woman's doctors performed an endoscopy procedure where they inserted a camera into her stomach to track her digestive system. When they inserted the camera, though, they pushed too hard and punctured her intestinal wall. Rushed into emergency surgery to rectify the error, the trauma surgeon began operating without consulting the CT scan. He inadvertently cut a major artery, causing the woman to bleed to death on the operating table.

The woman was initially seeking medical attention for blood in her stool. Her doctor wanted her to undergo an endoscopy, where she would ingest a small capsule with a camera that would take photos as it moved through her stomach and bowels. On the day of her procedure, she was prepped by two doctors, one of whom was still in training. Both were aware that their patient had undergone previous intestinal surgery, called a Roux-en-y gastric bypass. However, they assumed that she had a different surgery, called a Billroth II gastrojejunostomy. Consequently, her stomach and intestines looked different than what the doctors expected. As the doctors pushed the camera down her digestive tract, they met unexpected resistance. They continued to push the capsule down, causing the perforation. After realizing their mistake, a CT scan was conducted, which confirmed the damage. She was sent for emergency surgery. The trauma surgeon was confident he could fix the tear in just 15 minutes. In his hurry, he mistakenly cut a major artery. He couldn’t stop the bleeding.

Ben Cooper, a personal injury attorney and partner at Cooper Elliott, was contacted by the woman’s husband shortly after her death. Ben and his experts, including a trauma surgeon and gastrointestinal specialist, meticulously reviewed the medical records.

Ben identified two acts of negligence: the improperly conducted endoscopy and the surgeon’s erroneous incision. Despite the apparent malfeasance, the Defense argued that the doctors had not done anything wrong, claiming the woman would likely not have even lived more than another year or two.

Following a deadlock in mediation, Ben turned to DK Global for a demonstrative. The animation began with an example of a successful capsule placement, showing a tube smoothly moving down a patient’s stomach. The video then switched to a reenactment of the client’s endoscopy procedure, illustrating how the camera capsule caused intestinal perforation. It then displayed the patient’s CT scan results, confirming the hole caused by the doctors. The animation progressed to depict the emergency surgery, highlighting a critical error where the trauma surgeon made an incision seven inches away from the hole. It culminated in a dramatic portrayal of the surgeon inadvertently severing the vein, leading to the patient’s fatal hemorrhage.

Faced with the compelling evidence presented by Ben Cooper, the Defense found their position increasingly untenable. Utilizing the detailed animations from DK Global, Ben underscored the hospital’s negligence in a clear, undeniable manner. Shifting the balance, the Defense was compelled to reevaluate its stance. In the end, they ultimately agreed to a $900,000 settlement, more than double their initial offer.

Ben Cooper, a partner at Cooper Elliott, specializes in personal injury, wrongful death, civil rights, and complex business cases. Ben began his career in Washington, D.C., at one of the world’s largest law firms after receiving a top score on the Ohio bar exam. He has been recognized as a National Trial Lawyers’ Top 40 Under 40 and received the American Association of Justice Trial Lawyer Cares Award in 2022. In his career, he has achieved multiple seven-figure settlements.

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Ben Cooper - Cooper Elliott
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