Failure to Detect. Patient claimed doctor didn’t diagnose bowel obstruction.

FACTS & ALLEGATIONS On Nov. 18, 1994, plaintiff presented to her internist at his Staten Island office. She complained of stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Intern compiled plaintiff’s medical history and performed a physical examination. An endoscopy revealed some polyps in her stomach and signs of stomach bleeding.

At approximately 5 a.m. on Nov. 20, plaintiff awoke in severe pain and went to an emergency room. A small bowel obstruction was diagnosed, and surgery was performed. Plaintiff sued the internist.

Plaintiff claimed that defendant did not compile her complete medical history. Specifically, she alleged that he did not ascertain the time of her last meal. Her expert gastroenterologist testified that defendant should have performed a rectal examination, and that such an examination would have given indications of the bowel obstruction.

Defendant contended that all of plaintiff’s symptoms were consistent with an ulcer or other stomach problem. He argued that she displayed no symptoms of a small bowel obstruction, that she displayed no abdominal distention, and that she was not vomiting fecal matter.

The operating surgeon testified that the obstruction was present for only two to 12 hours. He testified that it could not have been present for 48 hours—dating to her initial examination—because peritonitis had not yet developed.

INJURIES/DAMAGES abscess; gangrene; loss of services After the surgery, complications developed. There was leakage from plaintiffs small intestine, and her gall bladder developed gangrene. It had to be drained, but it did not have to be removed. Plaintiff also developed an abscess. plaintiff’s husband presented a loss-of-services claim.

RESULT The jury rendered a defense verdict. It found no malpractice.