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Surgical Error During Colonoscopy and Postoperative Negligence Leads to Wrongful Death Case

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New Jersey Surgery Malpractice LawyersA colonoscopy is a relatively routine procedure. In fact, colonoscopies can serve as profoundly beneficial tools for early detection of conditions such as colon cancer. However, as with all surgeries and procedures, there are inherent risks for the patient. Worse still, when a doctor performing a colonoscopy makes an error or is negligent in some way, the results can be catastrophic, if not fatal.

This scenario occurred in 67-year-old Carole Christiansen, who underwent a routine colonoscopy at Crawford County Memorial Hospital, and tragically died as a result of an error during the procedure. Specifically, Carole died in November of 2014, when the surgeon performing her colonoscopy accidentally tore her colon. Although she had a second surgery the following day, the initial tear allowed contents from her intestine to leak into her abdominal cavity, resulting in an infection.

Carole ultimately died at another medical center eight days after the colonoscopy. Her husband, Eugene Christiansen, subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit on her behalf, claiming the surgeon, Doctor Dennis Crabb, was negligent in causing the colon tear during an otherwise routine procedure. According to  reports, Dr. Crabb identified his mistake during the initial colonoscopy and scheduled a follow-up surgery for the next day to repair the damage. Unfortunately, the corrective procedure was not performed immediately, and this allowed the infection to develop during the time in-between.

After filing the medical malpractice and wrongful death claim, the hospital settled the case with Mr. Christiansen, paying a sum of $500,000. This case is a prime example of what can go wrong when doctors make surgical errors and are negligent during postoperative care. Often, we assume that once a procedure is successfully completed, we are no longer at risk. However, errors during the postoperative period can be just as deadly.

Surgical negligence can manifest in a myriad of ways, including anesthesia errors, delayed procedures that lead to complications, infection due to unsanitary surgical environments or tools, leaving tools in the patient’s body, injuring internal organs, or damaging surrounding muscles, ligaments, tissue, or nerves. Even if all goes well during a surgery, postoperative negligence can turn life-threatening if medical professionals fail to recognize or treat internal bleeding or infection.

In the case of Mrs. Christiansen, she was the victim of negligence during the colonoscopy procedure itself, and further victimized by negligence during postoperative care. Both of these constitute medical malpractice, as Carole was not provided with the standard of care to which she was entitled. Although nothing can replace the value of losing his wife, Mr. Christiansen was able to see justice served by holding the negligent parties responsible for his wife’s untimely death.

At Fronzuto Law Group, our firm concentrates on New Jersey medical malpractice and wrongful death litigation, dedicating all of our knowledge and resources to achieving maximum compensation for victims and their families. With over 75 years of combined experience and New Jersey Supreme Court Civil Trial Attorney Ernest P. Fronzuto leading the way, we have recovered more than 30 million dollars in damages in the last three years alone. If you or someone you love suffered harm or wrongful death as a result of a surgical error, postoperative negligence, hospital negligence, or another form of medical malpractice, contact our North Jersey offices for immediate assistance. We are available at 973.435.4551 to provide answers to your questions and a cost-free consultation.

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