Contemporary SurgeryINTERACTIVE JOURNAL
MALPRACTICE MINUTE: Did body habitus mask signs of abdominal trauma?452
Liable or not? You decide
We give you facts of an actual malpractice case. Visit our web site contemporarysurgery.com to render your verdict, see how your colleagues voted, and then view the actual decision.
A 54-year-old woman was taken to the emergency department after a motor-vehicle accident. After she became unresponsive, a CT scan identified internal abdominal injuries.
The patient was transferred to another hospital about 4 hours later, but was dead upon arrival at the receiving hospital.
The trauma should have been identified in the ED and the transfer arranged earlier. Inadequate hospital protocols contributed to the patient’s death.
The patient’s initial presentation did not indicate major trauma, and the patient’s body habitus (5 ft 3 in, 300 lbs) masked her abdominal injuries. When the patient deteriorated, staff promptly assessed her, obtained the CT scan, and arranged the transfer.
Case excerpted from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements and Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, Nashville, TN (www.verdictslaska.com).