NEW ORLEANS – Three siblings filed suit against Ochsner Foundation Hospital after their mother allegedly died as a result of undiagnosed complications following elective spine surgery.

Stanley Clayton, Yolanda Gibson and Deontrenise Gibson, individually and on behalf of their deceased mother, filed suit against Ochsner Clinical Foundation, Ochsner Foundation Hospital, The Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund and Tulane University Hospital and Clinic in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Aug. 5.

The suit states that on Aug. 8, 2008, 67-year-old Willie Mae Gibson, the mother of the plaintiffs, underwent elective spine surgery at Ochsner Foundation Hospital. After the surgery, she was transferred to the post-anesthesia care unit, where she allegedly complained of a “burning type” of abdominal pain, indigestion and nausea.

The day after the surgery, she underwent a CT scan, where the radiology resident allegedly discovered “small bubbles of air within the pelvis [that] are likely post-operative in nature,” the suit claims. The radiology resident claims he noted the possibility of bowel perforation and relayed the information to a neurosurgery resident.

In later hearings, Dr. Manish Singh, the neurosurgery resident claims that the possibility of bowel perforation was never communicated to him, and even that he specifically asked if there was a perforation, and was told there was none.

On Aug. 11, the general surgery department was consulted to perform an abdominal exam, but by this time Gibson was too unstable for exploratory surgery. She died the next morning at 5:15 a.m.

The plaintiffs claim that had the bowel perforation been suspected on Aug. 9, their mother could have undergone exploratory surgery, before her condition worsened. The suit claims that Willie Mae Gibson died from an abdominal infection that was a result of a perforated bowel, which remained untreated for several days while she remained hospitalized at Ochsner.

The defendants are accused of negligently perforating Gibson’s bowel during surgery, failing to diagnose the septic condition, failing to perform proper diagnostic testing, thereby causing Gibson’s death and otherwise depriving her of a chance for survival.

The plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount in damages for mental anguish and emotional distress, their mother’s pre-terminal pain and suffering, costs of medical care, loss of their mother’s love and affection and funeral expenses.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jack C. Benjamin of New Orleans-based Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshaver LLC.

The case has been assigned to Division I Judge Piper D. Griffin.

Case no. 13-7376.

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