May 28, 2019, PNLR News | The American Association For Justice

May 28, 2019, PNLR News

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Negligent performance of colorectal surgery leads to fatal sepsis

photo of cells in a petri dish, through a microscopic lens

The husband and children of a woman who died of sepsis after colorectal surgery sued the surgeon who treated her, alleging he burned part of the patient’s small bowel during the procedure. Suit also alleged the defendant provided negligent postoperative care by failing to order a timely CT scan. The jury awarded $13 million. Raefski v. Hirsch.
 

Cheryl Raefski, a 43-year-old homemaker and mother of three minor children, underwent a colonoscopy in which part of a polyp was removed. Her physician then referred her to colorectal surgeon Christian Hirsch, who recommended surgery to remove the remaining portion of the polyp. The operation began as a laparoscopy, but Hirsch converted to a full open procedure when he could not locate the remnant of the polyp.

For the next four days, Raefski suffered severe abdominal pain. Hirsch ordered a CT scan, which revealed sepsis. Six days later, Raefski died. She is survived by her husband and their children.

Raefski’s husband and children sued Hirsch, alleging he negligently performed the surgery in that he burned part of Raefski’s small bowel during the laparoscopic portion of the procedure and failed to realize it. Suit also alleged that the defendant should have recommended a less invasive colonoscopy to remove the remaining portion of Raefski’s polyp and that he provided negligent postoperative care by failing to order a timely CT scan.

The jury awarded $13 million. Posttrial motions are reportedly pending.

Citation: Raefski v. Hirsch, No. 805440/2013 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. New York Cnty. Nov. 20, 2018).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Judith A. Livingston, New York City.