In September 2003 a 63 year-old Queens man went to New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, where a private attending physician performed surgery to repair a hernia. The surgeon attempted to use surgical mesh to patch the defect in the abdominal wall. The mesh, however, was inadvertently tacked to his small intestine.
A resident working at the hospital had assisted the surgeon. The error was not recognized at the time by either of them.
Over the ensuing months and years the patient had extreme pain in his abdomen that drove him to emergency rooms two dozen times, and resulted in his being admitted to hospitals on about 10 occasions. He had several repair surgeries.
The drawings you see on this page were commissioned by this firm to be used at trial as demonstrative evidence. (They have been edited for display on this website to preserve the client’s anonymity.) The top drawing demonstrates the patient’s pre-operative condition, how the small bowel was protruding through the hernia and how the surgery was supposed to repair the defect. The bottom image demonstrates what was found two years after the hernia repair surgery. The subsequent treating doctor described redundant pieces of mesh and the tacking of the mesh to the bowel. The images were created from descriptions in the medical records.
The case settled for $1,2000,000 in October 2008 when the parties appeared for trial and jury selection was about to commence. The surgeon’s insurance company paid the settlement for the attending physician, as he admitted that no matter what the resident did, it was done at his direction. The hospital, which had employed the resident, was therefore released from the case.