Man sues Tulane University Hospital and Clinic claiming substandard care

By Holland Phillips | Oct 7, 2013

NEW ORLEANS— A man is claiming that improper care at a New Orleans university hospital is responsible for the death of his wife.

Bruce Sontag, on behalf of his minor son, filed suit in connection with the death of his wife against University Healthcare System LLC, Tulane University Hospital and Clinic, Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund, Tulane Health Sciences Center, Donald E. Richardson M.D. and Sun Ike Lee M.D. in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

The defendant is accused of improperly diagnosing and treating Sontag, and improperly administering Duraseal, which expanded, damaging her spinal cord, causing progressive paralysis and eventually killing her, the suit claims.

The plaintiff also claims that Sontag came to Dr. Richardson on Aug. 19, 2008 for surgical insertion of a morphine pump for management of a preexisting back condition. After she was discharged, she began suffering headaches over that weekend and returned to the doctor, who admitted her with a suspected cerebrospinal fluid leak. He injected Duraseal at the suspected site of the leak. According to the suit, Duraseal, which is used as a type of biomaterial surgical sealant, is specifically not allowed to be used in the way defendants used it.

On Aug. 28, Richardson removed the Duraseal that was purportedly causing the paralysis. Sontag’s condition worsened, the suit claims, and she died on Sept. 8, 2008 after experiencing difficulty breathing while at a physical therapist’s appointment.

An undisclosed amount is sought for breach of the standard of care for improperly performing the original pump replacement, improperly correcting the leak, failing to follow up and any other breaches.

The plaintiff seeks damages for suffering as to physical pain, mental anguish, physical disability, medical expenses, death, loss of income and earning capacity, loss of love, affection and support.

The plaintiff is represented by Richard T. Gallagher Jr. of Gallagher Law Firm LLC.

The case has been assigned to Division G Judge Robin M. Giarrusso.

Case no. 2013-06817.

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