Family blames surgery delay for patient's death

A family filed suit against Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, Calif., and a local surgeon, claiming that a four-hour delay for an emergency surgery resulted in a patient's death, according to a KNSD report.

Brian Gearhart, who had a history of ulcers and abdominal disease, arrived at the hospital's emergency room with intense pain in November 2016, according to the lawsuit.

After two hours in the ER, a specialist confirmed Mr. Gearhart had a puncture of the small bowel. Physicians informed Mr. Gearhart he needed emergency surgery. At about 10:45 p.m., the ER staff contacted the on-call surgeon, Yifan Yang, MD. Dr. Yang "indicated he would come to the hospital as soon as possible to perform the surgery," according to the lawsuit.

After repeated attempts to reach Dr. Yang by phone, he did not arrive at the hospital until 2:45 a.m., and Mr. Gearhart's surgery did not start until 3:15 a.m., the lawsuit alleges. By that time, Mr. Gearhart had gone into septic shock and had a strangulated and perforated bowel.

Mr. Gearhart died the next morning. His cause of death is listed as respiratory failure, septic shock and small bowel obstruction, according to the medical examiner's report.

Dr. Yang was performing another surgery at a different hospital the night of Mr. Gearhart's surgery, according to the lawsuit. Dr. Yang reportedly said he called another physician to perform Mr. Gearhart's surgery. However, the family's lawyer found information indicating Dr. Yang did not call another physician.

The lawsuit, which was filed in December 2017, seeks unspecified damages for medical malpractice, negligence and other wrongs. The lawsuits names Scripps Health, Dr. Yang, and Scripps Mercy Physician Partners as defendants.

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