When Is a Common Risk Actually Malpractice?

June 29, 2015 | Crandall & Pera Law
When Is a Common Risk Actually Malpractice?

Surgery is inherently risky. Actively sedating a person and invasively altering an internal part of the body carries a relatively high risk even in routine cases. Competent professionals working together can minimize, and in most cases, eliminate, any major risk to a relatively healthy patient. However, care and responsibility don’t end with the surgery. Post-operative evaluations can be crucial to the continued health of a patient.

Melissa Gravitt underwent surgery at age 36 to increase her chances of a successful pregnancy. During the procedure, her small bowel was perforated – a serious problem, yes, but a commonly accepted risk for the procedure Ms. Gravitt was undergoing. The surgery was deemed a success and she was sent home.

According to The Augusta Chronicle, Ms. Gravitt went to an emergency room the next day complaining of high fever, racing pulse, and abdominal pain. Three days later she was back, this time with a distended abdomen and vomiting. Her doctor Peter Grossman admitted her to the hospital, but failed to order the CT scan that would confirm her perforated bowel for a further two days.

Because of Dr. Grossman’s failure to recognize Ms. Gravitt’s symptoms, she had to undergo further surgeries to correct the problems caused by the bowel perforation. On June 11, a Richmond County, GA Superior Court jury awarded over $1.57 million to Melissa Gravitt to cover the medical expenses resulting from her doctors’ negligence and pain and suffering.

Risks of abdominal surgery

If you have recently undergone abdominal surgery, or are planning on having abdominal surgery for any number of reasons, you are at risk of a bowel perforation. Untreated, a bowel perforation can lead to peritonitis, which can be fatal. Knowing the signs and symptoms of bowel perforation could save your life. The National Institutes of Health recommends contacting a medical professional if you experience:

  • Blood in your stool

  • Changes in bowel habits

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Vomiting

When a medical professional fails to recognize that symptoms or behaviors point to medical condition, they are guilty of malpractice. Malpractice can lead to unnecessary pain and suffering, as in the case of Melissa Gravitt. At Crandall & Pera Law, we have successfully prosecuted a number of bowel perforation cases, including the Stamper verdict of $1.2 million that was reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer. If you or someone you know has been misdiagnosed, or has suffered because a medical professional overlooked important details, please contact a Crandall & Pera Law office in Ohio or Kentucky offices for a free consultation.