The injured plaintiff, a 44-year-old unmarried Philadelphia school teacher, went to the emergency room of a local university hospital with abdominal pains. Although a CT scan of the abdomen showed warning signs of diverticulitis and even possible abscess, she was discharged home without being advised of these findings. Attorney Roberta D. Pichini represented her throughout the case.
As revealed in discovery, all the patient’s care had been rendered by two interns who had finished medical school only a few days earlier. They disregarded the dangerous findings on the CT scan and failed to communicate them. Instead of discharge, under the standard of care this patient required admission, intravenous antibiotics and evaluation for possible surgery to avoid calamity. The discharge and subsequent intake of a good deal of high fiber food by her (acting according to doctor’s orders) caused the patient to perforate her intestines, resulting in excruciating pain and extensive peritonitis as bowel contents poured into her abdomen. Emergency surgery was required to save her life, with additional surgery months later. Despite these heroic efforts, the patient was left with multiple adhesions throughout her abdomen, which result in ongoing pain and gastrointestinal distress, causing significant interference with the quality of her life.