Woman's suit says misdiagnosis, delays led to ruptured appendix

Marilyn Tennissen Apr. 12, 2007, 11:00am

A Newton County woman says inadequate medical treatment and diagnosis resulted in a ruptured appendix.

Plaintiff Cathy Wheeler visited a Bridge City doctor on Feb. 14, 2005, complaining of abdominal pain in the right lower quadrant. The Bridge City doctor sent Wheeler to Renaissance Hospital in Groves for an abdominal ultrasound.

Dr. Restituto Baluyot was the radiologist who read the ultrasound films and "negligently reported that plaintiff Kathy Wheeler has a 'negative appendictial ultrasound'" the original petition states.

"In short, defendants Renaissance Hospital and Dr. Baluyot negligently missed appendicitis and such failure constituted medical malpractice," the petition states.

Two days later, the plaintiff went to the emergency room at Mainland Medical Center in Texas City, where after waiting was told she would not see a doctor that day and went home. She visited another doctor the next day, again with abdominal pain. She was given pain medication and returned home. Later that day she returned to the Mainland emergency room in pain, "where she waited and suffered an astonishing 10 1/2 hours without seeing a physician." She went home again and returned by ambulance on Feb. 20. The petition says Wheeler waited an additional 12 hours and was eventually diagnosed with a ruptured appendix and taken to surgery.

"Thus, afer six days of neglect, Cathy Wheeler finally had the surgery she should have had much earlier," the petition said.

It goes on to state that while the surgery did save Wheeler's life, "she suffered greatly as a result of a delayed diagnosis. The infection was severe and caused her to stay in the hospital for months."

Wheeler's husband, Tommy, "had to return from his lucrative job in Kuwait to care for his wife. Thus, the family went from two incomes to zero income."

Cathy and Tommy Wheeler filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on April 9 against Renaissance Hospital, Dr. Baluyot and Mainland Medical Center in Jefferson County District Court.

The plaintiffs seek damages for physical pain and suffering, mental pain and anguish, medical expenses, physical impairment, mental impairment, lost earning capacity, physical disfigurement and loss of household services. Tommy Wheeler is also seeking damages for medical expenses, loss of household services and loss of consortium.

"Plaintiffs also allege that the conduct of defendant Mainlannd Hospital constituted gross negligence and malice and seek an award of punitive damages in an amount as the jury shall determine to be proper," the petition states.

Daniel Packard of Packard, Packard & LaPray of Beaumont is representing teh plaintiffs.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield in the 136th District Court.

Case No. D179-083

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