Doctor, medical center sued when woman dies after gastric surgery

Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 20, 2007, 11:24am

The family of a Chambers County woman filed a health care liability claim in a Jefferson County district court on March 8 against a local doctor and hospital after the woman died following a gastric bypass procedure.

The husband and children of Carolyn Ann Stewart are suing Dr. John Allen Schmidt and the Medical Center of Southeast Texas in Port Arthur.

On Dec. 6, 2005, Stewart consulted with Schmidt to discuss her desire to have laparoscopic gastric bypass, a procedure to promote weight loss by limiting the amount of food the patient can intake.

Stewart underwent a dietary and psychiatric evaluation and was approved for the procedure. She also consulted her cardiologist, Dr. Colgan, who said there were no contraindications for the procedure from a cardiovascular standpoint.

During the week of Jan. 12, 2006, Stewart and her husband Roy Stewart, met with Schmidt again to discuss the procedure, and Schmidt informed the Stewarts that he was still in training to perform the procedure. Schmidt said that another physician credentialed to do laparoscopic procedures would oversee the surgery.

A date of Jan. 27, 2006, was set for the surgery, when the credentialed physician would be in town. On the scheduled date, Schmidt performed the laparscopic gastric bypass at the Medical Center of Southeast Texas.

The plaintiffs claim that during the procedure, Schmidt punctured Stewart's aorta, which led to massive blood loss. The bypass procedure was aborted and an emergency repair of the torn aort was perfomed by Dr. Ally and Dr. LaWayne Miller.

Following surgery Stewart was in critical condition, intubated and on a ventilator. After six days in and out of consciousness, Stewart died on Feb. 2, 2006.

The suit claims that the actions of the defendants fell below the standard of care and constituted negligence.

Under the Texas Survival Statute, Roy Wallace Stewart, as executor of the estate of Carolyn Ann Stewart, seeks the recovery of pain and suffering that Stewart suffered prior to her death, mental anguish suffered by Stewart and reasonable funeral and burial expenses.

As surviving spouse under the Texas Wrongful Death Act, Roy Stewart is asking for compensation for pecuniary loss, loss of companionship and society, mental anguish and the termination of husband/wife relationship because of the death of his wife.

In addition, the children of Stewart, Danette Ann Stewart Garza and Roy Wallace Stewart Jr., are seeking compensation for pecuniary loss, loss of companionship, mental anguish and termination of the familial relationship because of the death of their mother.

Craig Lewis of the Lewis Lawfirm in Houston is representing the plaintiffs.

The case has been assigned to Jefferson County 58th District Court Judge Robert Wortham.

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