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Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Punctured Spleen During Surgery

Mistakes can happen in medicine. When a mistake is made, it is up to the doctor to recognize the error and take the action required to correct the error and mitigate damage. The most harmful thing a doctor can do after making a mistake is failing to tell the patient about it. 

A widow in Connecticut filed a wrongful death lawsuit after her husband died following a procedure, claiming the doctor failed to notify the patient of a problem and failing to properly monitor the patient. 

Radiologist Procedure and Punctured Spleen

Tom D’Amato went into the New Milford Hospital for a radiological procedure, known as a thoracentesis, to remove fluid. Dr. Michael Waldman, a radiologist, performed the procedure. During the procedure, Dr. Waldman recognized that he had perforated the patient’s spleen. However, the patient was sent home without the doctor mentioning the perforation. About 6 hours after the procedure, Mr. D’Amato returned to the hospital with complications. Three days later, he was dead

The Department of Health investigated the death and found that Dr. Waldman had punctured the patient’s spleen, failed to notify the patient, and failed to properly care for and monitor the patient. The Medical Examining Board put a one-year restriction on Dr. Waldman’s license and he must be monitored by another radiologist for a year. The Board found that Dr. Waldman acted incompetently and negligently in the practice of medicine, and that he violated the standard of care.”

Diane D’Amato, as executrix of her late husband’s estate, filed a wrongful death lawsuit for malpractice against Dr. Waldman. The lawsuit was settled for $500,000. According to D’Amato, “this settlement has brought some sense of closure for me.”  

What is a Thoracentesis?

A thoracentesis is a procedure where a needle is inserted into the pleural space between the lungs and chest wall to remove excess fluid, intended to make it easier for the patient to breathe. This can be a treatment option for patients with lung infections, heart failure, or tumors. 

The procedure generally takes a short time, about 15 minutes. The procedure is generally done with a local anesthetic. Risks of the procedure include collapsed lung, infection, liver injury, or spleen injury. 

Ruptured Spleen Injuries  

Most people never think about their spleen but it is an important organ for keeping bodily fluids balanced, fighting infection, and filtering blood. The spleen is about the size of a fist, located in the upper left quarter of the abdomen, under the ribs and above the stomach. 

A ruptured spleen is a medical emergency. Whenever there is a break in the spleen’s surface, it can lead to internal bleeding, and if left untreated, possible death. Spleen ruptures can occur during traumatic events, like a car accident or sports injury, but can also be caused by an enlarged spleen.

Symptoms of a ruptured spleen may include: 

  • Pain in the upper left abdomen,
  • Tenderness to the touch, 
  • Left shoulder pain
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

If the injury to the spleen is not too severe, a patient will generally be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and performing non-invasive CT scans for further evaluation. 

Ruptured Organs During Surgical Procedures 

If you or a loved one was injured after a surgical procedure or the doctor did not inform you of a serious health emergency caused by the procedure, contact our experienced attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian. To discuss your malpractice injury with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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