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Medical Malpractice/Endoscopy induced aspiration then death


An endoscopy has led to aspiration during the procedure causing the patient's death. The doctor stated, "In hindsight, we would have done things differently." This was at The Cancer Treatment Center of America in Philadelphia. It was well known and in the patient's medical history that she had severe sarcoidosis throughout her lungs. It was felt from the family that the procedure would be too risky with her pulmonary condition.

Events were as follows:
Patient requested medication from CTCA over the phone.(possibly due to stomach area pain)
CTCA (Patient was a patient there for a couple of years) refused to prescribe medication over the phone and said she would have to come in to get the medication.
Patient Went to hospital. Upon arrival, patient was convinced to stay over night.
May 1 - Scans and x-rays were requested from the gastro physician.
It was hearsay that prior to viewing the scans, the doctor did an endoscopy. (would need to confirm with medical records to see the exam results)
During endoscopy, the patient aspirated and expired two weeks later.

It seems as if the doctor hit or punctured something with the endoscope, causing the aspiration.

On a separate, probable second malpractice suit with Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC:
Prior to this, the patient's stomach was completely removed but should have been partially removed, if removed at all. That may be a different case as What was thought to be stomach cancer may have been her sarcoidosis. I'm not sure how that can be proven now that the patient is deceased. A pulmonary specialist thought this may not have been cancer but sarcoidosis that spread to her stomach. Treatment had no effect on the growth. Patient was seen with "cancer" on her bladder but a specialist said they've never seen cancer spread in that direction, which was agreed upon with another specialist.

This is a obviously a very complicated case that has resulted in a death.  Surely you can understand that neither I nor any other attorney would want to even attempt to evaluate it in terms of malpractice without having the complete medical record for an outside medical expert to review.  Don't know if this applies at all but just as an example of how the entire history must be considered, what if this patient was terminal or close to it and without an endoscopy to determine what treatment might be effective, the patient had no chance at all. And what if going in they realized that the endoscopy was high risk because of the underlying disease but it was either do the scope or just render palliative other words, just let the patient die.  So they tried something heroic but it didn't work out as hoped.  In such a case, that would not be malpractice.  On the other hand, (and I won't do the research), is it the STANDARD OF CARE in preparation for an endoscopy that the patient's stomach is emptied completely so that aspiration does not occur?  I don't know. I am a lawyer. I would have to research it or consult with an MD.  But let's say that is the standard and they did not do it and it did indeed lead to death.  Then yes, there would be malpractice in that situation but here is the other issue:  You don't mention the age of the patient or health history.  If the patient was of advanced age with advanced cancer, and even if negligence with the edoscopy was the cause of death, no lawyer would want the case.  Why?  The patient was on his last legs anyhow.  The damages would not be high enough to justify a lawyer spending probably 20,000+ of of his own pocket, hundreds of hours, just on a small chance of success and the chance of getting reimbursed or paid for his trouble.  Someone of middle age or lower and a good chance of beating the cancer but dying because of botched scope..........that would be a good case.  

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Glenn A. Dorfman


Thirty-four years experience in personal injury, medical malpractice and medical product liability law. Qualified to answer all questions regarding injuries and the law, except for worker`s compensation. Also wide experience in medical product defect cases ie current litigation regarding the Johnson&Johnson (DePuy)defective hip implant cases and Mirena IUD issues


Thirty-four years experience handling cases involving auto accidents, trips and fall, fires, dog bite,medical malpractice and defective medical product cases with particular emphasis in 2012 and beyond with the DePuy ASR (Johnson&Johnson) defective hip implant cases. Twenty-five years of experience with defective IUD issues as well

Jurisdoctor Degree 1976 and Member in good standing with CA State Bar Assoc. since 1976

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