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Widow haunted by memory of husband's senseless death

Medical malpractice occurs all too frequently in Florida hospitals, as one of our recent posts documented. There are many reports of people admitted to a hospital for one medical problem, only to die or suffer serious injury at the negligent hands of doctors and staff. When a person dies because someone did not adhere to standard operating procedure or failed to follow a surgeon's directions in preparing a patient for operation, we are all made painfully aware that those same medical malpractice mistakes could someday be our own undoing.

In 2006, a retired Ohio factor manager and his wife visited Orlando for a vacation. The man was a scratch golfer and had taught his wife to play, so they could enjoy their later years together. They came to Florida with other couples to play golf and relax. Unfortunately, the man began complaining of stomach pains. The next night, he excused himself from dinner as well as skipped a football-watching party the next day.

He felt things were getting serious enough that he sought medical help at a local hospital. He was diagnosed with an intestinal blockage, and an operation was scheduled. The surgeon left instructions to pump the man's stomach before starting the operation, the preferred procedure in such cases. Neither the anesthesiologist nor the nurses followed those directions.

Further, the anesthesiologist left the operating room during intubation of the patient, even though hospital policy mandated his presence.

The patient threw up after the intubation. When the vomit was breathed into his lungs, brain damage occurred. The patient died a day later from a massive lung infection.

What started as a leisurely golf vacation abruptly ended in a wrongful death. The insurance company for the anesthesiologist has now settled the case for $1 million, though the doctor continues to maintain there was nothing he did that contributed to the man's death.

It has been over five years now since the tragic death and his widow still cannot believe what happened. To her it seems surreal that a life could be taken away by a disregard for basic medical procedure.

Medical malpractice cases can be confusing and complicated. They often require a careful review of all hospital documents and notes in addition to consultations with qualified medical investigators. A Florida attorney experienced in medical malpractice may offer some hope and answers to those left wondering what went wrong.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Medical mishap turns golfer's Central Florida vacation into tragedy," Bob LaMendola, Aug. 07, 2011

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