Woman sues for post-op infection

Marilyn Tennissen Oct. 4, 2007, 10:43am

Susan Loe had a hysterectomy in July 2005. The wound from her surgery did not heal completely for almost two years.

Now Loe and her husband have filed a medical malpractice suit against the doctors that worked on her case. The Loes suit against Dr. Ruben Victores, Southeast Texas Ob/Gyn Associates PA, Dr. Robert Elliot and Grapevine Breast Center was filed on Oct. 3 in Jefferson County District Court.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, Dr. Victores performed a laparscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy on Susan Loe on July 20, 2005. Following the surgery, Loe called the doctor's office several times complaining of severe pain, but says she was unable to get an appointment for sooner than her two week post-operative visit.

Instead, she visited her primary care physician, Dr. Sidney Marchand, who evaluated the surgical site and diagnosed her with a wound infection. Marchand prescribed antibiotics and instructed Loe to follow up with Victores.

When Loe returned to Dr. Victores, she says he "did not adequately examine or evaluate the wound, despite Mrs. Loe's specific complaints of pain and redness and the fact that Dr. Marchand felt she had a wound infection," the complaint states. "Rather, Dr. Victores told her that everything was fine, and cleared her for a trip to the Dallas area which she had been planning."

While in Grapevine, near Dallas, Loe went to the Baylor Regional Medical Center emergency room complaining of increasing abdominal pain and redness at the incision site.

The plaintiff alleges that a CT scan performed there revealed extensive abscessed cavities in her abdomen.

Dr. Robert Elliot at the Grapevine center took her to surgery for debridement of necrotic tissue. She was discharged to her brother's home in Irving where she received intravenous antibiotics and wound care.

After returning to Beaumont in early September 2005, Loe continued treatment at the Wound Care Center until Hurricane Rita forced the family to evacuate. Once again in the Dallas area, Loe followed up with Dr. Elliot who opened the wound for drainage in October and again in December.

"An abdominal CT done on Dec. 12, 2005, noted a large ventral hernia into which more of the abdominal contents had located," the complaint states. "Dr. Elliot repaired the hernia with a mesh on Dec. 16, 2005. Mrs. Loe was discharged on Dec. 18, 2005."

But 10 days later, Loe was back in the emergency room, where she says she was diagnosed with an abdominal wall abscess which required drainage. Loe was again started on a course of IV antibiotics with daily dressing changes.

She continued to see Dr. Elliot for wound drainage in February, March, May, June and August and was admitted to the Grapevine hospital in September 2006.

"At this time, a PICC line was inserted as a long term IV access and Mrs. Loe was again discharged with a wound vac and daily dressing changes through home health," the suit states.

She underwent similar admissions and surgeries in November 2006 and January 2007.

"While hospitalized between Jan. 19, 2007, and Jan. 23, 2007, Dr. Elliott informed Mrs. Loe that he was 'tired of her case' and would no longer be her physician, essentially abandoning her," the complaint alleges.

In February 2007, a Dr. Westmoreland removed the infected mesh at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Further debridement was required on Feb. 23, 2007.

"After 22 months, the abdominal wound finally healed and closed," the suit states.

Loe claims that Dr. Victores is guilty of negligence for failure to thoroughly evaluate the incision site, failure to perform a wound culture, failure to provide adequate discharge instructions, failure to follow up on the signs of wound infection and failure to "assess and treat plaintiff as a reasonably prudent physician would have done under the same or similar circumstances."

Southeast Texas Ob/Gyn Associates is liable for Dr. Victores' acts and omissions under the theory of respondent superior or apparent agency, the suit claims.

In addition, Dr. Robert Elliot is negligent for failing to remove the infected hernia mesh and for abandoning Mrs. Loe at a time when she required medical assistance. Grapevine Breast Center is liable under respondent superior.

Loe is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 for physical pain, mental anguish, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement, physical impairment and medical expenses.

On behalf of Robert Loe, damages are sought for loss of household services and loss of consortium.

The Loes are represented by Kay Van Wey of Dallas. They are requesting a trial by jury.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Milton Shuffield.

Case No. D180-454

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