The following is an article from the Bergen Record and about a major trial that is currently going on:

A young Paterson mother of three who went to the hospital with nausea and constipation and ended up suffering an agonizing death would still be alive today if not for the negligence of some doctors and surgeons at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, an attorney argued in court on Wednesday.

“She died a horrible, painful death of her own waste tearing through her bowels, causing her to go into toxic shock and die,” said Michael Raff of Paterson, who is representing James Flood on behalf of Keisha Flood.

Raff and two of five defense lawyers gave their opening statements before jurors and Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Graziano in Paterson in Flood’s medical negligence lawsuit against several doctors working at the Paterson hospital when Keisha Flood went to the emergency room on Nov. 4 and 6, 2006. The others will give their opening statements today.

Raff noted that Flood had had gastric bypass surgery years earlier that caused her to lose a lot of weight.

“It was a success,” he said.

That gastric bypass was a part of her medical history that was clear to all attending physicians, Raff said. Raff alleged that negligence was demonstrated during the first emergency room visit because certain procedures were not followed.

Flood started experiencing vomiting and constipation before going to the hospital. Based on her symptoms and history, there were standard practices that should have been followed, he said.

Patient sent home

Dr. Sitendran Lakshmipathy, one of the defendants, ordered an X-ray, but then misread it and never conferred with a radiologist as he should have, Raff said. Had he done that, Raff said, the radiologist would have pointed out a problem that required a CAT scan.

Instead, Raff said, “he discharges her. He misreads the X-ray. He basically told her she had a stomachache and to go home.”

She did. Two days later, she returned. This time, an X-ray and CAT scan were taken. On the surgical floor, Flood was put under the care of an attending resident surgeon, Dr. Michael McKinney, a defendant. While he looked at the Nov. 6 X-ray, he did not consult with a radiologist about its findings and did not look at the CAT scan, Raff said.

Another defendant, Dr. Jagbir Benival, an attending surgeon, oversaw Flood’s case – but not closely enough, Raff argued. While he should have checked in with her at about 7:30 a.m., he dealt with other patients at his office, came back to the hospital to perform an operation and finally got around to checking Flood at about 2:30 p.m.

“Unfortunately, he was advised by the nursing staff that she died a few minutes ago,” Raff said.

Defense lawyers noted that their clients in no way deviated from accepted standards of care.

“The practice of medicine is not an exact science,” said Michael Keating of Cranford, who is representing Lakshmipathy.

He said his client ordered all the proper tests and that Flood appeared to improve significantly.

“The patient told him: ‘I feel fine. I feel better,’ ” Keating said.

Jeffrey Krompier of Parsippany, attorney for Benival, said his client was the first doctor at the hospital to suspect a serious blockage of the patient’s bowel, which started the problem. He also said that based on Flood’s initial condition when he first saw her, there was no need to stay at her bedside.