Woman's malpractice suit alleges doctors delayed father's throat surgery

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Mar. 3, 2010, 8:17am

GALVESTON - A Texas City woman claims a number of doctors at the University of Texas Medical Branch delayed surgery on her father who had a severe problem with his esophagus, recent court documents say.

Latasha Olivares' lawsuit against the medical branch alleges physicians did not operate on Joe Allen Stewart's ruptured esophagus despite arriving at the hospital with a diagnosis from St. John's Hospital in Nassau Bay on Dec. 4, 2009.

Stewart eventually died more than two weeks later on Dec. 20 after a second surgery. His family believes that the delay in recognizing the critical nature of Stewart's condition contributed to his death.

The suit was filed Feb. 25 in Galveston County District Court.

The decedent was first admitted at St. John's before he was transferred to UTMB.

"Mr. Stewart was suffering from a ruptured esophagus and need immediate surgery to repair the rupture," the orginal petition says.

Despite their awareness, the doctors did not proceed with the operation right away, the suit alleges.

Additional tests were run the following day, culminating with the supposedly emergency surgery. The treating physicians informed Stewart's family that the surgery was successful, the suit says.

A gastrostomy tube was subsequently placed in the decedent's stomach for sustenance, but would become dislodged.

"This went unnoticed for several days," the suit says.

"By the time his doctors noticed the displaced gastrostomy tube, several liters of food substance had been infused in Mr. Stewart's abdomen."

Another surgery occurred, but Stewart became septic and passed away.

The suit accuses UTMB and the treating doctors of four counts of wrongdoing, arguing their alleged misconduct caused Stewart's unnecessary pain and suffering and death.

It seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

The Pinkerton Law Firm PLLC is representing Stewart's estate, and Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor is presiding over the case.

Case No. 10cv0567

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