Man blames doctor for allowing wife to die following infected wound

Kelly Holleran Jul. 23, 2013, 7:09am

The husband of a recently deceased woman has filed suit against a doctor at Christus Southeast Texas Physician Hospital Organization, saying his wife died after the doctor failed to timely treat an infected wound caused from being sterilized.

Dean Arrant claims his wife, Heather A. Hooks, decided to undergo a tubal ligation after giving birth to her fourth child, Daphney Arrant, on June 22, 2011. The procedure, which is commonly referred to as having one’s tubes tied, left a scar on Hooks’s abdomen. Following the operation, the scar began to pull apart and Hooks visited the emergency department at defendant Christus Southeast Texas Physician Hospital Organization in Jasper, according to the complaint filed July 12 in Jefferson County District Court.

Upon Hooks’s July 22, 2011, arrival, she presented with a high fever, high white blood cell count, abdominal abscess and malnutrition, the suit states. Defendant Dr. Richard R. Riggins examined her infected wound and knew of the severity of it, but failed to do a complete blood count test and to administer an abdominal wall CT scan to determine the size of the abscess, the complaint says. Instead, he diagnosed her with a staph infection and cellulitis, prescribed Bactrim and discharged Hooks, Arrant says.

Although Hooks took the medication as prescribed, her condition continued to deteriorate, according to the complaint.

On Aug. 12, 2011, Hooks began to feel ill and to grow progressively worse over the next few days, the suit states. An ambulance rushed her to Christus Jasper and then to Christus St. Elizabeth in Beaumont where she was put on life support, sedated and moved to the Intensive Care Unit, the complaint says. There, she was diagnosed with a MRSA infection, a lung infection, stage 3 kidney failure and pneumonia, shortness of breath and septic shock, Arrant says.

Over the next several weeks, Hooks continued to physically decline. Finally, on Sept. 17, 2011, she underwent a seven-hour surgery, according to the complaint. However, her body was so swollen that her chest could not be closed following the surgery and she died on Sept. 20, 2011, the suit states.

“Ms. Hooks experienced an excruciating death,” the complaint says. “If she had been admitted for observation and treatment on July 22, 2011, and Dr. Riggins had administered an abdominal wall CT scan, Ms. Hooks’ death could have been prevented.”

Arrant alleges medical negligence against the defendants, saying they failed to properly evaluate Hooks, failed to timely assess and diagnose her as a reasonably prudent physician would have done, failed to choose an appropriate procedure to treat her and failed to properly care for her.

In his complaint, Arrant seeks a judgment within the jurisdictional limits of Jefferson County District Court, plus exemplary damages, pre-judgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law, post-judgment interest at the legal rate, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Matthew R. McCarley, Daniel R. Thering and Audra L. Mayberry of Thering McCarley in Frisco will be representing him.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B194-530

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