Pain and Infection Failed to Alert 5 Doctors of Object Left in Abdomen, Woman Claims
6-11-2014 02:07:00

     RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - A plastic surgeon and four Kaiser doctors left a catheter in a woman’s abdomen for almost five years, through continued pain and recurrent infections, she claims in Riverside County Court.

     Carol Coleman sued plastic surgeon Robert A. Hardesty, M.D., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Southern California Permanente Medical Group for medical malpractice.
     According to her lawsuit, Coleman had an abdominoplasty done by Dr. Hardesty in July 2008, after complications from a hysterectomy left her with an unsightly and uncomfortable scar and weakened fascia above the incision. He left a catheter in her abdomen when he did the surgery and, despite later opportunities to discover his mistake, it remained there for almost five years, she says.
     “Since then, she has had progressively worse pain, inflammation, swelling, soft tissue masses, and recurrent infections in the area."
     In January 2009, under local anesthesia, defendant Dr. Hardesty performed scar revision and attempted minor liposuction, but the liposuction had to be halted because she couldn’t endure the pain. In October 2009, she consulted with defendant Hardesty again due to persistent pain. Dr. Hardesty ordered lab work and the lab result was: ‘Heavy growth of staphylococcus lugdunensis.’ This should have alerted him that there was a foreign object left inside of plaintiff. Defendant Hardesty did not order an ultrasound or any diagnostics to rule out a foreign object,” it says.
     Three Kaiser radiologists and a Kaiser surgeon also missed the catheter, according to the complaint. Coleman says she had an ultrasound in September 2011, a CT scan in January 2012, and another ultrasound in January 2013, but all three interpreting radiologists missed the object. The third “reviewed the pictures and produced a report saying he found ‘fluid collection’ above the scar – but he neglected to report that there was a foreign body inside the fluid collection,” the complaint states.
     Meanwhile a Kaiser surgeon “continued to assure plaintiff that the soft tissue mass (below the scar that remained for months beginning in 2011), was merely a ‘lymph node’ or ‘scar tissue,’” the complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Finally in March 2013, Coleman says she saw Kaiser’s head of surgery. “Initially, he read the radiology reports as ‘fluid collection,’ but then reviewed the images from the ultrasounds, and informed plaintiff that ‘you have a catheter in you,’” and removed it that May, according to the complaint.
     “As a direct result of defendant Hardesty failing to remove the catheter, and Kaiser’s failure to discover and diagnose the object, plaintiff has had to deal with recurrent bouts of infection, pain, cycles of heavy dosage antibiotics, loss of energy, and loss of accrued sick pay that reduced her teacher retirement benefits,” the complaint states.
     Coleman “has sustained, and will sustain in the future, severe pain, disfigurement, maiming, suffering, injury to her body, and severe shock and injury to her nervous system and various other injuries to the person,” she says.
     Coleman seeks economic and non-economic damages, costs of suit and attorney’s fees. She is represented by James L. Meier of Santa Ana.