MARTINEZ, Calif. (CN) - A woman died of a perforated bowel following hernia surgery because doctors were "busy," her family claims in a lawsuit filed in Contra Costa Superior Court.
Cynthia Black and Alyssa McCarty sued Kaiser Permanente International, Prescilla M. Manglinong, R.N. and William Pao Cheung Ku, M.D. for the wrongful death of Delores Burke.
Burke was Cynthia Black's mother and Alyssa McCarty's step-grandmother, with whom McCarty had lived since she was three years old, the complaint says.
Dr. Ku performed hernia repair surgery on Burke in December 2012, according to the complaint. It says her bowel and small intestine were perforated during the operation.
"After the surgery, Ms. Burke had internal bleeding and/or fluid loss, as well as an elevated white blood cell (WBC) count that indicated infection. However, no health care professional adequately assessed and treated the resulting infection and blood loss. In fact, her chart wrongly indicated that she was 'free of signs of infection.' This failure to assess and treat her blood loss and infection occurred despite a number of warning signs," the complaint continues.
Her white blood cell count climbed dramatically the day after the surgery and "her post-operative intake of fluids was significantly higher than her output, which should have resulted in a nurse or doctor evaluating her for internal bleeding and responding appropriately. This did not occur," the complaint states.
"Later that day, Ms. Burke complained of what Nurse Manglinong described as 'unanticipated' pain. However, Nurse Manglinong told Ms. Burke that both her surgeon and another doctor in the hospital were busy. As a result, her complaints were not addressed, and she was merely told to take two pain pills," the complaint states.
By the time doctors operated again to repair the damage, "it was far too late. She had slipped into a comatose state and never regained consciousness," it says.
Cynthia Black and Alyssa McCarty seek special and compensatory damages, loss of Burke's care and economic support, prejudgment interest and a jury trial.
They are represented by Bradley R. Bowles and Nathaniel B. Duncan of Bowles & Verna in Walnut Creek.