Lawsuit over botched gastric surgery on 43 year old Conroe woman

Painter Law Firm filed a medical malpractice case in Montgomery County, Texas today on behalf of our client. The petition names as defendants Conroe Regional Medical Center, Dr. Richard Wilkenfeld, Dr. Susan Babb and Dr. John Marriott.

Our client was only 43-years old in 2010, when she was diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which caused cirrhosis of the liver. Her liver doctor recommended a lap band surgery to slow down the progression of cirrhosis.

Our client saw Dr. Richard Wilkenfeld, a Conroe area surgeon, who convinced her to have a gastric imbrication surgery instead of the lap band procedure.

During gastric imbrication, a surgeon folds the greater curve in on itself and sutures the folds in place. After a gastric imbrication, the greater curve of the stomach will not be able to expand, limiting how much food a patient can eat at one time.

The problem is that Dr. Wilkenfeld did not tell our client that gastric imbrication was a new procedure and still considered experimental.

On February 4, 2011, Dr. Wilkenfeld performed the gastric imbrication surgery at Conroe Regional Medical Center.

After the surgery, Dr. Susan Babb, a Conroe area internal medicine doctor, got involved in our client's care.

Following the surgery, our client had severe nausea, vomiting and pain. She also could not keep down any fluids. These are classic signs of an obstruction or blockage in the stomach. It also suggests that Dr. Wilkenfeld had sutured the stomach tightly and that she needed to go back to surgery to have it fixed.

Despite our client's unstable condition, the nurses did not inform the doctors of these warning signs, and Dr. Wilkenfeld and Dr. Babb discharged our client to home on February 8, 2011.

About 12 hours later, our client went to the Conroe Regional Medical Center emergency room, complaining about terrible stomach pain and vomiting. She was admitted for 24 hours and never was able to hold down any food or liquids.

Dr. John Marriott, a radiologist who practices in Conroe and The Woodlands, interpreted a CT scan, which showed signs of gastric outlet obstruction (a blockage in her stomach). Dr. Marriott never informed Dr. Wilkenfeld or Dr. Babb of that dangerous finding. Still unstable, they sent our client home again.

Our client was home for one week and continued to have nausea and pain, and could keep almost no liquids down. She called Dr. Wilkenfeld's office twice to beg for help, and was finally given an appointment the day after her second call.

On February 16, 2011, Dr. Wilkenfeld saw her in his office and then sent her to Conroe Regional Medical Center for surgery to reverse the gastric imbrication procedure. Even after the reversal surgery, a barium swallow study suggested that there was still an obstruction.

By February 19, 2011, our client was in critical condition and had a serious infection. Dr. Wilkenfeld performed a laparoscopic surgery to drain an abscess in her upper abdomen and repair multiple perforations (holes) in her stomach and insert a drain.

Our client finally escaped the poor care at Conroe Regional Medical Center on March 5, 2011, when she and her husband insisted on immediate transfer to St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital The Woodlands. At the time of her discharge, she had numerous infections, including sepsis.

As a result of the poor care our client received at Conroe Regional Medical Center, her stomach is paralyzed, meaning that she will likely never be able to drink or eat anything again. She currently receives nutrition through total parenteral nutrition, which is a pump connected to a line that goes into her heart. Her fragile condition prevents her from be able to work and has devastated her life.

Our expert physicians have carefully reviewed the medical records and have indicated that our client should have been taken back to surgery by three days after the original gastric imbrication procedure. One or two days of vomiting and nausea is within the normal range, but after that, there is certainly a problem that needs addressed.

Unfortunately, the nurses at Conroe Regional Medical Center did not communicate
the severe signs and symptoms that our client showed, including nausea, uncontrollable vomiting and even brownish or coffee ground-looking vomit. Surgeon Dr. Richard Wilkenfeld and internist Dr. Susan Babb did inadequate evaluations of their sick patient and rushed her out of the door. And radiologist Dr. John Marriott did not bother to call the doctors when a CT scan showed a gastric obstruction.

Sadly, our experts have informed us that all of this would have been avoided if this hospital and the doctors and nurses had followed the standard rules for practicing medicine and health care.

Additional Resources

Read the original petition (without exhibits) by clicking here.

Robert Painter
Article by

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.