Accidents happen, but when accidents happen during medical procedures the results can be disastrous and life altering. This particular case is a little different from the ones we usually tell you about, but we simply couldn’t resist.
Lourdes Rivera, 56, of Kearny, NJ recently filed a lawsuit against Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus. According to the suit, Ms. Rivera was admitted to the hospital in August 2013 because of a stroke, and her doctors administered an echocardiogram. During the procedure, doctors inserted an endoscope into her mouth and esophagus.
Rivera was discharged in September 2013. Before her discharge, she underwent a second endoscopy, during which her doctors failed to notice any obstruction during the procedure. Rivera complained of throat pain and trouble chewing, as well as a persistent raspy throat to her daughters.
In November, after her stay at Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, Rivera underwent a tracheostomy, during which doctors removed her lower dentures. The dentures had been dislodged during her first echocardiogram, and she’s been unable to work since her discharge due to her medical issues.
To add insult to injury, officials at Meadowlands Hospital sent Rivera a letter that December acknowledging that they had “misplaced” the dentures and offering reimbursement. Oddly enough, a hospital spokesman was unavailable to comment.
Why Rivera may be entitled to compensation
Rivera underwent a procedure called a trans-esophageal echocardiogram. During this version of an echocardiogram, the heart is imaged from an endoscope inserted through the mouth and esophagus to obtain a clearer image than a normal echocardiogram.
Both the National Institute of Health and Johns Hopkins University have research and information pages specifically warning patients and doctors to both ask and manually check for dental appliances before a trans-esophageal echocardiogram.
Doctors performed this procedure not once, but twice on Rivera during her stay at Meadowlands Hospital. This means they either neglected to ask twice, or neglected to check twice, or managed not to notice that their patient was missing teeth the second time around. Any and all of those situations are completely unacceptable from a medical professional.
The negligence of Rivera’s doctors forced another procedure, a tracheostomy, during which surgical cuts are made through the neck and into the trachea. This procedure, along with the usual surgical and anesthetic risks, includes risk of thyroid damage, lung puncture, and the formation of scar tissue that can cause pain or trouble breathing. All of this risk has been incurred, of course, by a woman who had a stroke only a few months ago.
Of course, accidents happen, but lightning rarely strikes in the same place twice. We are pretty confident a verdict will be made in favor of the plaintiff. For more information about dental malpractice, please contact Rocky McElhaney Law Firm.