Diverticulitis Death Lawsuit Settlement Is $2.5 Million

2022 Medical Malpractice Settlement Report
Middlesex County Superior Court
By Attorney Robert M. Higgins

Failure to treat diverticulitis and colon perforation leads to septic shock and death

Case summary

The decedent presented to the emergency department with complaints of 10/10 abdominal pain. His exam showed a tender abdomen with distension. His labs were abnormal indicating that he had an infection in his abdomen. He underwent a CT scan which showed he was suffering from diverticulitis with a small perforation. The defendant surgeon was contacted and the decedent was admitted to the hospital on the medical floor under the care of the defendant hospitalist. 

The following morning the decedent was seen and evaluated by the defendant surgeon. The defendant decided that the perforation was contained and surgery was not needed despite clears signs of an infection. The plan was observation with bowel rest with surgery if he did not improve or worsened. Throughout the day and into the next, the decedent’s pain remained, his vital signs were abnormal and his labs showed a worsening infection despite antibiotics. The defendants were made aware of these issues.

The following morning the decedent was seen again by the defendant surgeon and hospitalist. Despite clear evidence that he was worsening and needed surgery, the defendants planned to keep watching him and waiting to see how he progressed. Later that afternoon the decedent’s blood pressure dropped dangerously low and a rapid response was called. He was diagnosed as being in septic shock and was finally taken to the OR. When they opened him up the found a perforation of his colon and fluid throughout his abdomen.

Following the surgery he was taken to the ICU where he required significant medications to keep his blood pressure up. The following morning he suffered a cardiac arrest and was unable to be revived. His cause of death was septic shock from colon perforation.

Surgeon and hospitalist settle shortly before trial  

The plaintiff was prepared to present expert medical testimony that the defendants were negligent in failing to recognize that the decedent was in need of emergent surgery once his condition worsened despite treatment. The experts were prepared to testify that the decedent’s perforation needed to be repaired and if it had been done he would not have suffered septic shock.

The defendants were expected to present expert testimony that it was reasonable to wait and see how the decedent responded to conservative management. The experts opined that his death was tragic but there was no way to know he was going to get a sick as he did so quickly.

This medical malpractice wrongful death case settled for $2,500,000.00 shortly before trial.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys  Robert M. Higgins and Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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