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Legal Liability for Untreated Perforated Ulcer- a Missouri Case Study

Missouri Medical Malpractice and Perforated Ulcers

It seems we all know someone with an ulcer. Because the condition is fairly common, it may also appear not to be a very serious health threat. But an ulcer can perforate. Left untreated, it is potentially fatal.

That was the tragic outcome for a 57-year-old Missouri woman who was experiencing severe stomach pain and went to see her doctor. She was sent to Missouri Southern Hospital for a CT Scan which was read remotely by a radiology group in Cape Girardeau. The radiologist missed the free visible air visible on the scan – a telltale sign of a perforated ulcer. He detected fluid in the scan but concluded it might be recurrent cervical cancer.

The patient returned home and wasn’t told of the findings. The next day, her pain intensified. She went to the emergency room. Her ulcer was discovered but it had already perforated a hole in her stomach and digestive juices were leaking into her abdominal cavity. The patient underwent emergency surgery but died the next day.

I filed a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the woman’s family against her doctor and the radiologist. After a four-day trial, a Scott County, Mo. jury returned a $1.2 million verdict for the family apportioning half of the damages to the family doctor and half to the radiologist.