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Confidential Settlement - Medical Error Results in “Backasswards” Colostomy

This case falls under the “OMG, No They Didn’t” category. I mean a jaw-dropping error.

You might have heard of a colostomy. A colostomy is a surgical procedure in which part of the colon is diverted to an artificial opening in the abdomen, so that waste from the colon can be collected in a bag outside of the body. This procedure is often done following removal of a diseased portion of the colon. Sometimes a colostomy is permanent. In other cases, the colostomy is temporary and is reversed in a later surgical procedure.

What does a proper colostomy look like?

Ordinarily, waste from the digestive system moves from the small intestine, through the colon (also called the large intestine), through the rectum, and is eliminated in a bowel movement. The purpose of a colostomy is to remove a portion of the colon and divert waste to the colostomy bag. This allows digestion and elimination of waste to continue, while the portion of the colon and rectum that has been excluded from the system heals.

In a proper colostomy, after the colon has been transected and a portion of it removed, an opening is created in the abdomen. The healthy part of the colon – the part still attached to the small intestine – is then brought through the opening and forms part of the stoma, which is then attached to a disposable waste-collection bag. The stoma and bag become part of the patient’s waste-elimination system. Waste moves from the small bowel, through the healthy part of the colon, and then exits through the stoma, collecting in the bag. The part of the colon that has been excluded from the system is then sewn shut, so that it doesn’t cause contamination into the patient’s abdominal cavity.

A colostomy should look something like this:

What is a Backasswards Colostomy?

A backasswards colostomy involves cutting the colon into two pieces and then creating a stoma using the portion of the colon that leads to the rectum. That portion of the colon is then attached to the ostomy bag. The other end of the transected colon – the part that is in continuity with the small intestine – is sewn or stapled shut. The bag is disconnected from the process of digestion and waste elimination. Nothing passes through the stoma, and nothing collects in the bag. Any waste passing through the small intestine and into the colon is blocked by the closed end of the colon.

It looks something like this:

The result of a backasswards colostomy is a surgeon-created, complete bowel obstruction. The food and drink you ingest literally have nowhere to go. It either backs up or tears open the colon and leaks into the abdomen.

Here are the two procedures illustrated side-by-side:

Proper colostomy

Backasswards colostomy

In short, the surgeon tied up the wrong end of the colon. OMG, right?!

No competent surgeon would intentionally perform a backasswards colostomy. And yet, our client, Mrs. Kanatano, had a backasswards colostomy performed on her. It resulted in significant pain and suffering. At first, the team caring for her post-operatively ignored her complaints of pain, never considering the possibility that the surgeon – who had a very good reputation – had done the procedure backasswards. But that is precisely what happened. Fortunately, because Mrs. Kanatano did not eat or drink much in the days following the procedure, the problem was identified before it caused too much damage. She did, however, undergo additional procedures to correct the surgical mistake.

Ohio Medical Negligence: Case Settlement

The Eisen Law Firm was able to settle this case prior to trial. After reviewing the medical records and putting a timetable together of Mrs. Kanatano’s surgery and post-operative course, Mr. Eisen was able to show exactly where the medical error occurred and how multiple safety measures were not followed. He backed that up with expert support from one of the country’s leading colorectal surgeons.

It is not often that medical errors are this blatant. In this jaw-dropping medical error case, however, the hospital knew that Mr. Eisen would “tear them a new one” if this case ever went to trial. He was able to demonstrate clearly when and how the medical error occurred, and that this error does not happen in the absence of negligence.

The Eisen Law Firm has been handling medical malpractice cases for decades. This focus allows The Eisen Law Firm to quickly understand the legal and medical implications of malpractice cases. Mr. Eisen has developed relationships with opposing counsel and has a reputation as a zealous patient advocate and knowledgeable adversary. This focus, reputation, and knowledge allowed this case to be settled for a significant, confidential sum prior to trial.