Colostomy reversal botched, suit says

Dover man claims disfigurement from mistake



Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007
A surgery meant to reverse a colostomy on a Dover man went horribly wrong last year, resulting in fecal mater being discharged from his penis and urine passing through his colon, according to a lawsuit filed in Superior Court.


During the procedure, the suit alleges doctors at Kent General Hospital improperly stapled the colon to the bladder instead of the rectal stump. This left the patient with diarrhea, as well as gas and liquid stool passing from his penis.


The man was taken to Christiana Hospital 12 days later to have the procedure corrected, but not until after much suffering and embarrassment as well as “disfigurement and disability,” the suit claims. It also affected life at home with his wife, who also is suing the three doctors involved in the allegedly botched procedure, Surgical Associates P.A. and Bayhealth Medical Center Inc.


Bayhealth Medical and Surgical Associates, where the three doctors practice, declined to comment.


Dr. Scott D. Goldstein, director of colon and rectal surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, said he had not seen the suit and is not familiar with the specific case. He said this type of surgical error has been documented before, “but it should be rare as hen’s teeth.”


Goldstein said colostomy removals can be difficult and tedious procedures in which the bladder can get in the way. Adding to the difficulty, Goldstein said, are anatomical changes caused by the initial surgery.


“These structures are very close to one another,” Goldstein said. “But it shouldn’t happen. I can’t say more than that.”


In a colostomy, part of the colon is brought to the surface of the abdominal wall, leaving the patient with an opening called a stoma. After a colostomy, feces leave the body through the opening and are collected in a bag attached to the person’s abdomen.


Not all colostomies are permanent. A temporary colostomy is used when part of the colon needs to heal, usually after surgery or trauma. Once the colon heals, the colostomy is reversed by reconnecting the two ends of the colon. This should return bowel function to normal.


But that’s not what happened to the Dover man.


According to the lawsuit, he was admitted to Kent General Hospital on Oct. 19, 2005, complaining of abdominal pain. A few days later, one of the doctors named in the suit performed exploratory surgery and drained a suspected abdominal abscess.


But the patient continued to have pain and returned to the hospital a week after being discharged from the first surgery. Doctors performed a CT scan and diagnosed him with a condition that required a temporary colostomy.


The man returned three months later to have the colostomy reversed, a procedure that was performed by the other two doctors named in the suit and a physician assistant, according to the suit.


This is where the mistake occurred, the suit alleges.


“As a consequence of the error,” the suit claims, “fecal matter and urine were mixed and diverted so that fecal matter entered the bladder and was discharged through the urethra and urine was discharged through the colon.”


The man was admitted to Christiana Hospital nearly two weeks later, where doctors performed a temporary fix to allow the inflammation to go down. He returned to Christiana Hospital July 28, 2006, and Dec. 11, so that the problems could be permanently fixed.


He continues to suffer weakness, as well as injuries because of the multiple surgeries, according to the suit.


The Dover couple is asking for unspecified damages, as well as costs and interest.

Contact Esteban Parra at 324-2299 or

Leave a Reply