Appendectomy results in death of 27 year old husband due to hospital failure to diagnose pulmonary embolus
Wrongful Death
Medical Malpractice
Kern County Superior Court

Catrise Duckett, the 33 year old widow of her husband of 8+ years who was an employee of a defense contractor at the China Lake Weapons Station, brought this action for wrongful death after her husband died from complications following a relatively routine appendectomy at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

The decedent went to the Emergency Room of RRH with stomach pains, where he was diagnosed with appendicitis and scheduled for surgery the same evening.  The on call General Surgeon performed a successful appendectomy and discharge was anticipated within 24 hours.  Over the course of the next two days the patient became extremely nauseated and developed symptoms including tachycardia, which should have alarmed the nursing staff but inexplicably did not.  The nursing personnel failed to notify the surgeon during the night before the demise of their patient of very severe symptoms and clinical findings and observations strongly indicating an impending pulmonary embolus.  A battery of tests to diagnose a possible pulmonary embolus was not ordered until just before the patient arrested and expired.

Our client claimed that her deceased husband’s symptoms clearly suggested that he might be developing clots, but that nothing was done in response to those symptoms. It was further alleged that the hospital staff violated the hospital’s own rules in failing to notify the attending physician when the decedent became extremely tachycardic during the night before his death. The plaintiff was 27 years old when he died, survived by his wife of 8 years, but no children. The surviving wife claimed damages for wrongful death which included past and future economic loss of $1.8 million.