Patient Story

Julie's story:

February, 2017, at St. Vincent’s Hospital (a Trauma One Hospital) in Indianapolis, IN, my husband had a three-bypass open-heart surgery.  The surgery went well, but due to a small “nick” (by an anesthesiologist inserting a monitoring wire) in his lung, he experienced a pneumothorax; the insertion of a chest tube was done after 16 hrs of “watching” him struggle to breathe by a physician assistant using a trocar (an instrument banned for such use in the United Kingdom, Australia and other areas in the USA).  The PA did not check the pre-op x-ray or post-op x-ray to see that the radiologist noted that my husband’s lungs, diaphragm, etc. were very elevated and pushed the trocar with the chest tube through his diaphragm and liver. (Sonography could have been used to check on the correct placement.) The chest tube immediately started draining massive amounts of blood.  The  cardiothoracic surgeon was present and chaos ensued while nurses scrambled to disconnect all the monitors, etc. so he could be transported to the OR.  The source of the bleeding was determined, but due to prior surgery and scar tissue, the surgeon called for a trauma surgeon to do the repair.  The trauma surgeon was not present in the hospital, was misinformed as to which hospital to go to, and went to the wrong hospital.  Due to the emergency of the situation, an oral page was called for any

general surgeon to report to the surgery room my husband was in.  A general surgeon reported to the room and started the repair and soon the trauma surgeon arrived but not before my husband had almost “bled out”.  He received many units of blood during the surgery trying to keep him alive.  He survived the surgery, but over a period of three weeks, he was intubated (unable to breathe on his own), was put on dialysis as his kidneys failed, followed by GI bleeding, and every system in his body failed; had decubitus ulcers, was never fully conscious (due to massive amounts of pain medications) or able to communicate and subsequently died.My husband was a retired cardiothoracic surgeon, who had a very successful practice.  He hand-picked his surgeon and had confidence in him.  What he didn’t count on was that the surgeon would allow someone other than a qualified surgeon to do an invasive procedure on him that he was not trained or qualified to do.  When my husband practiced medicine he took complete care of his patients knowing it was his responsibility and the patient’s life was in his hands.  He would still be alive if the surgeon would have inserted the chest tube himself.Due to Medicare cutting the reimbursement fees to hospitals and doctors, patients are being discharged sooner than they should be and doctors have hired PAs to do the things that they themselves should be doing and surgeons confine themselves to the OR doing as many surgeries as they possibly can.  The cardiothoracic surgeon that did my husband’s surgeon told me that he did 254 open-heart surgeries in one year.  He told me, also, that on the weekends he is on call that he makes “rounds” on 65 or so patients (fresh open-heart or transplants) using a PA.  These are critical post-op patients.  I cannot imagine that one surgeon with a helper could possibly do a thorough check on that many critical patients adequately.  My husband’s life was “cut” short byGREED.