California Hospital Sued After Catheter Left in Patient's Heart

Posted on Feb 24, 2009
From The Mercury News:

"Doctors at the San Mateo Medical Center left a five-inch catheter inside a Foster City man's heart, causing an infection that complicated his fight against cancer, then tried to cover up the mistake, according to a lawsuit filed last week.

Alan Paolucci, 52, says the San Mateo County-run hospital should have known that a catheter being used to treat his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma had broken off from a port in his chest after he began treatment in 2003.

His lawsuit, filed Monday in San Francisco County Superior Court, says the catheter became a "time bomb" when it lodged in his heart and caused an infection, permanently damaging the organ.

The medical center then arranged an operation at Mills-Peninsula Hospital to extract the catheter through Paolucci's neck and groin, a "doomed-from-the-start, 'Hail Mary' surgical procedure to remove the evidence of its gross neglect," according to the suit.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for negligence, medical malpractice, fraud and battery.

Deputy County Counsel John Nibbelin declined to comment on Paolucci's suit, saying the county has not yet been officially served with it.

He said the medical center "has the highest standards for quality and safety and is always working to further improve quality and safety."

The lawsuit states Paolucci was diagnosed with lymphoma in December 2002, after the medical center had previously misdiagnosed him with pancreatic cancer."

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Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law