There is an old joke, “What do you call the student that finished last in Medical School?” The answer “Doctor.” We want to prevent what happened to David from happening to anyone else and have filed a complaint with the California Medical Review Board. Read the details below
Death comes stealthy on a cold winter’s night.
A slip, a fall on a sheet of ice.
A week of saying “I don’t feel quite right.”
A surgeon with a butcher’s hand,
In the ground you almost land.
Two weeks later, you’re on death’s door,
So get ready and get your butt out the door.”
I took you to the hospital four hours away,
Where the doctor’s and nurses saved your life that day.
I struggled and struggled to get you care.
I looked to find competence, but it existed no where.
For help I asked, I was your wife,
They said by doing so, I was jeopardizing your life.
I looked for help not knowing to turn where,
My cries of anguish like smoke in the air.
The anger and frustration I had to vent,
So to U.S. Senator, Barbara Boxer an email I sent.
I wanted to know the reasons why
Quality healthcare was just a lie.
She assured me, she gave me hope.
A Republican, a Democrat now has my vote.
You’re home now just to wait.
Another surgery, another date.
They say Dr. Chandy is one of the best.
My God, I really would hate to see the rest.
If I have my way he will be through,
Twelve weeks recovery instead of two.
Copyright ©2002 Tiffany D. Montano
Life is all about
choices and right now I have two. I can turn my back on humanity and
allow the system that has so failed me, to continue to fail the people it is
supposed to protect. I can allow innocent victims to continue to be
abused, to fall prey to the predatorial legal system, or I can stand up for my
values and try to make a difference. This is not an easy choice. I
am tired and sick. But years ago I joined a club. It is sort of an
unstructured byproduct of a training I took years ago called est. I do not
even if it still exists but the name of the club was “the Making a Difference
Club”. The name pretty much speaks for itself. This value has been
ingrained in every part of my being.
I cannot get justice for my husband. A victim of medical malpractice, unable to hire a second attorney after the first one quit, my husband was forced to act as Pro Per in a civil case against our local hospital. The judge refused to allow him to speak, to address the issues or to have me speak for him. He refused to allow the medical evidence which clearly stated David was treated for a “misdiagnosed ruptured appendix”. This almost killed David four times. The doctor admits sending David for blood test for malaria the day before he was admitted to the SFVAMC instead of sending him back to the hospital. The original diagnosis of choliocystitis (gallbladder) was made by a physicians assistant and the anesthesia was administered by a nurse anesthetist not even an anesthesiologist. The locals tell me they are afraid to go to the hospital. I thank the Veterans Administration for the great quality of health care they gave David and sadly, I am forced to thank the Tax-Payer for footing the bills for the doctors that didn't do their job, the hospital who neglected David and the insurance company who should be paying the bills.
The reason our first attorney quit was because the defendant's attorneys overwhelmed him with paperwork. He was a small firm and could not “afford” to represent us. When one attorney quits, no attorney will touch the case. I talked to one attorney who said he had just settled a case against the same hospital for wrongful death. He said he wouldn't touch a case against the hospital again without a $50,000.00 retainer because they donut settle. One attorney said I would be better off if my husband died.
We must demand a Victims Legal Defense Fund similar to the Miranda Act, paid for by the doctors, lawyers and insurance companies who so abuse the system. We must demand a Victims Relief Fund to defray the expenses caused by medical malpractice. This must be a federal law because we have already seen doctors use the high cost of insurance to abandon their patients and relocate. We need to prosecute doctors who repeatedly make mistakes. We have a three strikes law for criminals, why not for doctors and hospitals? They violate the public trust. We must impeach any politician and unseat any judge that caves into insurance companies and special interest groups. The lawyers overwhelm our court system with their legal games that have nothing to do with justice. Millions die. Millions are forced to file bankruptcy while the taxpayer bears the burden and the doctors, hospitals, lawyers, politician, judges and insurance companies get rich.
I don’t care about money. I just want justice.
On December 19th, 2001, David woke up vomiting, with fever and chills. He continued through out the night and around 8:00 AM we called the SFVAMC Medical Advice Nurse, who told us if he was dizzy to call 911 and take him to the nearest emergency ward. At Oroville Hospital in Oroville, California where a PA diagnosed Gall Bladder disease and called in a surgeon Dr Mammen G. (George) Chandy told us if they didn’t remove David's Gall Bladder he would die. During surgery the Gall Bladder ruptured spilling it’s contents into the abdominal cavity. When questioned if he removed David’s appendix at the same time, Dr. Chandy said no, it was healthy. I find this unbelievable because nothing else was healthy. About a week prior, David slipped on ice and injured his right side. The pathology report indicates this was when David ruptured his appendix.
Even though his condition continued to deteriorate, Oroville Hospital released David on December 22nd, 2001 in an unstable condition. He was vomiting when I picked him up, had not been able to go to the bathroom or eat and had a fever. Dr. Chandy had only removed the JP drain that morning. When he removed the JP drain, it was still draining cloudy bloody puss. David was sent home with three days of antibiotics and pain pills. He was told to call the office on December 24th to make an appointment. Over Christmas he continued to complain of pain, was unable to walk and had a temperature of 101.0. I tried to call the office but the answering service did not pick up. On the 26th David was feeling a little better so we made an appointment for January 3rd, 2002.
When we went into Dr. Chandy’s office, David had a slight fever and was complaining of pain. Dr. Chandy glanced at the incisions said you are fine. I told him David was running a fever of 101 the night before. He took his temperature ordered blood tests and told us to monitor his temperature and come back in a week. If we would have waited a week David would be dead. He lost twenty-six pounds, could hardly walk or talk and appeared as if he had had a stroke the following day, when I took him to the SFVAMC where they ran blood tests, a physical exam and a CT scan which reveled more than three abscesses in his abdomen. All his internal organs were swollen including the prostrate, liver and everything else indicating a ruptured appendix. They inserted two JP drains and kept him for five days. Two days later, David became constipated. This was very painful because of the JP drains and even though the doctors at SFVAMC left orders how to treat, those orders did not get conveyed to the Home Health Care nurse. The Medical Advice Nurse at SFVAMC told me to take David to Oroville Hospital to be stabilized and if necessary transferred to SFVAMC. Even though they ran x-rays (taking sprained ankles first), the doctors could not diagnose the problem. After eight hours, he was transported to San Francisco. He had to wait that long because none of the nurses wanted to make the trip. He had to agree to self medicate in order to get transferred. He was treated at SFVAMC and kept for three more days. They removed one of the JP drains but left the other one in. He had to return on January 29th to have the drain removed and then on March 30th they will removed his appendix. They couldn’t remove the appendix sooner without risking spreading the infection throughout his system and they needed the swelling to go down.
A small umbilical hernia was found and removed containing fat. Dr. Chandy told David it was strangling his Gall Bladder?
Both the nurse that has been taking care of David at home and the doctors at the SFVAMC have expressed their belief that the appendix ruptured when David fell on December 16th, prior to December 19th, 2001. When the appendix ruptured it spilled its contents into the abdominal cavity. This caused the abscesses, infection and acute symptoms. As the infection gained strength it involved the Gall Bladder, pancreas, spleen, liver and even the prostrate gland. This could be felt via physical exam. Why didn’t Dr. Chandy do this? Why didn’t he look for the cause instead of assuming it was the Gall Stones? Thickening of the walls of the Gall Bladder indicated the condition was chronic. David had symptoms over two years ago. The whites of his eyes were yellowed but I assumed this was from Hepatitis C which he was diagnosed with before we met. In hindsight it is obvious the Gall Bladder would have had to be removed eventually and did have to come out as a result of the disease caused from the appendix. The whites of David’s eyes are white again.
March 29th David had his appendix removed. Even though the doctors cautioned us not to have the procedure performed laproscoptic and David refused to consent to laproscoptic surgery, after David was medicated Dr. Gibbs coerced David into signing a consent for laproscoptic surgery telling him “I’m going to do it my way”. The ironic thing is Dr. Gibbs was one of the SFVAMC doctors who told David not to allow laproscoptic surgery because once you have the abscesses in the abdomen there is a greater than fifty percent chance of further complications. Well guess what. . .
Although David bled in the recovery room and after being sent to the ward he was released two days after surgery. He was given a shot of Demerol for the four plus hour drive home. The following morning April 1st 2002, David woke up with his side bruised. And when we called SFVAMC we were told to take him to the nearest clinic, Mather Field in Sacramento, California. Thank the Great Spirit we did because they had to infuse him with three pints of whole blood. They kept him NPO (no food, water, or even ice chips) for three days because they expected to perform emergency surgery at any time. Finally they released him after four or five days only to return for more tests due to diarrhea that couldn’t be controlled. At least they did not have to admit him. We saw the doctor just a few days ago and he said if David develops any type of fever bring him in immediately and “we will handle it in house”. They scheduled further tests. He is still in pain and the saga continues.
I want to say you have to be proactive with your healthcare. Doctors are not Gods and make mistakes. If doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t right. Be a consumer and fire your doctor if they won’t listen to you. Research your symptoms on the internet. Be informed and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You know your own body better than anyone else does.
Update to David’s condition. During all the surgeries David suffered a degree of brain damage. The neuropsychologists at the SFVAMC have stated it is probably due to the anesthesia from multiple surgeries. I noticed the difference after the first but I attributed it to the degree of illness. The anesthetist Mike Barrett, we find out after the fact is only a nurse anesthetist not even an anesthesiologist. Not even a doctor.
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