Delay in Performing Emergency Surgery for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) - Destrander
The Destrander Case
On September 11, 2017, Mr. Destrander was a 68-year-old male living in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, a farming county about 3 hours to the east of Pittsburgh. On September 11th, Mr. Destrander went to a local hospital with complaints of pain in his right groin/flank. The doctors were concerned and suspected that Mr. Destrander might have a life threatening condition, such as an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area in the lower part of the major vessel that supplies blood to the body (aorta). The aorta runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen. Since the aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.
The doctors in Fulton County ordered CT imaging of the abdomen and pelvis which showed that Mr. Destrander had an aortic aneurysm that was 15.1 cm in size, just below the level of the renal arteries. The doctors in Fulton County quickly decided that the case was too complex and that emergency surgery may be required, so they made arrangements for emergency transport and emergency surgery to be performed at a major hospital.
Mr. Destrander was then airlifted to the Defendant Hospital and while in the ER at the Defendant Hospital, Mr. Destrander was evaluated by a resident physician whom made the decision that emergency surgery was not necessary, that Mr. Destrander’s condition did not require emergent treatment. The resident thought Mr. Destrander’s pain was coming from a hernia; and so he decided to not proceed with the anticipated emergency aneurysm repair surgery. No imaging studies were ordered to evaluate the suspected leaking aneurysm, as the medical staff at the Defendant Hospital determined that the aneurysm was not leaking without any further imaging to support the decision.
Mr. Destrander was admitted to the Defendant Hospital and continued to be medicated for significant abdominal pain.
However, at approximately 12:50 a.m., on September 12, 2017 Mr. Destrander was discovered unresponsive in his room and a code was called. Resuscitation efforts were delayed because basic resuscitation equipment was not immediately available and ready for use at Mr. Destrander’s bedside. Suction filter and suction tubing for suction was not connected to the wall at the head of Mr. Destrander’s bed. Clearing Mr. Destrander’s airway and intubation were delayed due to the immediate unavailability of the suctioning equipment.
Mr. Destrander was not able to be properly resuscitated in a timely manner and was pronounced dead at 1:20 a.m. on September 12, 2017. An autopsy was performed that determined the cause of death to be a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
On behalf of Mr. Destrander’s estate, a medical malpractice lawsuit was filed against the Defendant Hospital alleging that it was liable by reason of its agents’ negligence in nor performing the anticipated emergency AAA surgery.
Soon after filing the lawsuit, the Defendant Hospital agreed to settle the case for a substantial settlement.