When the Blackmans checked their healthy 15-year-old, Lewis, into the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s hospital for a routine procedure they stated they felt it was like, “getting braces.” How could they know that there precious, full of life child only had four days to live at this point, due to the sloppy mistakes of medical staff.
Lewis had been born with condition called pectus excavatum, which simply means a crease in his chest. In years past to correct this condition was considered strictly cosmetic, but research show that it can later lead to respiratory problems if not fixed.
Still his parents felt it was in his own time that he could decide he wanted it fixed. The procedure is not a simple one and carries with it risk. It is a five-hour operation where the entire chest cavity is opened up. However, Lewis’s parents did research and found at MUSC they offered a safer way. A metal bar would be inserted into his chest to simply prop up the breastbone, cutting the time in surgery tremendously. The entire family felt this was the way to go and so they contacted MUSC to schedule the surgery.
The day of the surgery everything seemed to go well, and Lewis was given Toraldol which is a high power pain killer, with high risk effects. However, doctors prescribe high power drugs daily and as long as the patient is monitored it turns out fine.
Unfortunately, this would not be the case for young Lewis. Early the next morning Dr. Hebra checks in on Lewis, this would be the last experienced doctor to have eyes on his until his death. His condition seemed to be good and he orders him to get up and move around. Nurses continue to give Lewis Toraldol through his IV when terrible stomach pain begins. He told the nurse it was a five on a scale of one to five. He was in excruciating pain, now knowing that the drug was eating through his intestines causing massive bleeding. The nurse, despite his others pleas, says its gas pain and to get up and move.
Medical experts agree that when a patient is reporting this amount of pain at attending physician would and should be called. Any veteran doctor would have recognized that Lewis was having a deadly reaction to his pain medication. Yet nurses and residents refused to call. They almost seemed annoyed at his parents repeated request for an attending.
Sadly, Lewis continued to deteriorate and his abdomen became ridged and his temperature dropped. They couldn’t get a read on his blood pressure and still no doctor was called. Eventually Lewis was incoherent, bleeding profusely into his belly, and was pronounced dead shortly after.
“This is a case of gross medical negligence on the part of MUSC. The nursing staff and residents failed to recognize a patient who was slowly dying. They ignored the pleas of Lewis’s parents to see an attending physician which would have likely saved his life.” Says Joe Sandefur or joeandmartin.com, personal injury attorney in South Carolina.
Lewis had a bright future that was cut short due to a medical staff that failed their patient.