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Posted on 28the July 2022
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I heard about this event this week; it happened within the last week, in Munich.
Doreen (not her real name) went to a clinic for a colonoscopy (a routine procedure, generally considered to be low risk). After she awoke from the anaesthetic, she was in a great deal of pain, and told the doctor about her pain. The clinic did an ultrasound scan and found nothing wrong, so the doctor insisted that there was nothing to worry about, but they nevertheless kept her in the clinic for two hours after she awoke.
Doreen's daughter came to the clinic to take her mother home, and was told that Doreen was still unconscious from the anaesthetic. At the same time, the clinic told Doreen that her daughter had not yet arrived to collect her. Eventually, Doreen's daughter heard her mother's voice, and barged into her room, to find her fully conscious, compos mentis and in lots of pain.
Despite the pain, the clinic felt that no further treatment was necessary, but Doreen sensibly decided to go to the hospital. The clinic felt that an ambulance was not called for, so Doreen got a taxi to the hospital.
The doctor at the hospital was worried enough to order a CT scan, which discovered that Doreen's bowel had three punctures, one of which was very large. She was given emergency surgery, in which they repaired the two smaller punctures, and removed the section of her intestine with the larger hole (because it was not repairable). Then, of course, Doreen's abdominal cavity had to be flushed out, because her bowel had been leaking for several hours. Normal procedure after a bowel leak like this also includes a strong course of antibiotics.
Doreen now has a surgical scar from below the navel up to her breast bone. She is probably still on antibiotics, and she can't lift anything.
The hospital is to be praised for acting correctly and quickly; they probably saved Doreen's life.
The clinic and their staff deserve to be punished for:
It is not as common in Germany to sue for things like malpractice as it is in the US, but in this case I think that Doreen should sue the clinic and the responsible doctor for her pain, stress and disfigurement. Her medical insurance could also attempt to recover the costs of Doreen's hospital treatment from the clinic, although they probably won't (they very rarely do). Doreen's employer could also attempt to use legal action to recover the costs of paying Doreen while she was on what should have been unnecessary sick leave (in Germany, employers pay the first 6 weeks of sick pay; after that, the medical insurer takes over the payment), but again, based on past cases, they probably won't. Finally, the responsible doctor should suffer disciplinary action; if this is not an isolated case, maybe even be struck off.
I don't yet know the name of the hospital which gave Doreen such excellent and prompt treatment; neither do I know the name of the clinic which is so incompetent and irresponsible. If I find out either name, I will edit this post to add the details.