Case details

Surgeon: Clinical observation of patient was appropriate





Result type

Not present

bowel, colon, digestive, gastrointestinal, intestine, perforation, sepsis abdomen
On Sept. 16, 2015, plaintiff Charles Lucas, 49, an inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, underwent a repair of a left inguinal hernia and a laparoscopic lysis of abdominal adhesions. The surgery was performed by Dr. Daniel Marcus, at Marina del Rey Hospital. Lucas was discharged that same day, but he returned to the hospital the next day with complaints of abdominal pain. A CT scan was performed by a specialist, but nothing determinative of a bowel perforation was seen. Lucas was kept overnight, but he continued to decline in the intensive care unit on Sept. 18, 2015. At that point, Marcus performed an exploratory laparotomy, discovered a bowel perforation and performed a repair. Lucas claimed that, thereafter, he suffered sepsis and had to be hospitalized for several months. Lucas sued Marcus and Marina del Rey Hospital. Lucas alleged that Marcus failed to timely diagnose his condition, resulting in a delay in treatment. Lucas further alleged that Marcus’ failures constituted medical malpractice and that the hospital was vicariously liable for Marcus’ actions. Marina del Rey Hospital was let out of the case after being granted a motion for summary judgment. Lucas’ counsel contended that Marcus should have known that Lucas suffered a bowel perforation the day Lucas returned to the hospital because of the underlying procedure, and because the clinical signs and symptoms that Lucas presented were red flags. Defense counsel contended that when Lucas returned to the hospital, it was not necessarily indicative of a bowel perforation, as the CT did not show a perforation, so Marcus was hesitant to bring Lucas back for an exploratory laparotomy. Counsel noted that Marcus evaluated Lucas on his return to the emergency department on Sept. 17, 2015, and that Marcus requested multiple consults. However, defense counsel contended that Marcus was not notified of any significant findings throughout the remainder of the day and into the early morning of Sept. 18, 2015. Counsel also contended that when Lucas’ condition continued to decline on Sept. 18, 2019, Marcus timely diagnosed the bowel perforation after an appropriate workup was performed and timely repaired the bowel perforation immediately thereafter. The defense’s general surgery expert opined that Marcus’ workup and observation approach was appropriate, as there was nothing clinical to indicate a bowel perforation. The expert also opined that Marcus timely fixed the perforation and that Marcus’ treatment of Lucas was within the standard of care., Lucas sustained a bowel perforation, which was eventually repaired by Marcus on Sept. 18, 2015. Due to the perforation, Lucas suffered sepsis and had to be hospitalized for months. He was then transferred to a rehabilitation facility. Lucas claimed that he lost strength in his abdomen and suffers a loss of endurance. He also claimed that he can no longer work overtime hours in his position, which gave him an additional $15,000 to $20,000 in income. He claimed that he would have retired at 65, regardless of the outcome of the subject trial. Lucas sought recovery of past and future loss of earnings, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. His wife sought recovery for her loss of consortium.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Alhambra, CA

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