Appendectomy Malpractice Lawsuit Alleges Negligence Caused Child’s Death

According to allegations raised in a recently filed wrongful death lawsuits, doctors failed to diagnose a post-surgical bowel infection after an appendectomy, which resulted in fatal injuries for a seven year old girl.

The complaint was brought by Sherry Robinson in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama on September 13, indicating doctors with the Alabama Children’s Health System, more commonly known as Children’s Hospital of Alabama, provided negligent care to her daughter, Kamiya Dufermeau, who died in May from a bowel infection caused by a routine laparoscopic appendectomy.

Appendicitis is a painful inflammation of the appendix, which typically occurs in the teens or 20s. It is the most common cause of acute abdominal pain requiring surgery. Typically, mild to moderate cases are treated with antibiotics alone. However in severe cases an appendectomy to remove the appendix is required to prevent rupture.

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When the appendix bursts prior to surgery, the contents of the intestines can leak out into the body, causing tissue damage or lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition. When left untreated a burst appendix can cause death, which is why emergency appendectomy is often done.

According to the lawsuit, Dufermeau presented symptoms of fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loose stool and decreased appetite when seen at the emergency department at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama on April 18. Doctors treated her with non-surgical therapy and instructed Robinson to bring Kamiya back for a follow-up on April 27.

By April 26, Kamiya continued to suffer severe abdominal pain. According to her mother, the child was “curled up in a ball and crying in pain”, leading to a second visit to the emergency room that day. Doctors performed a laparoscopic appendectomy the next day.

After a seemingly successful appendectomy, Kamiya was seen by the facility’s pediatrician, Dr. Bolus, on May 4, suffering from severe bowel pains with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, lethargy and emesis, all of which the lawsuit allege are apparent signs of post-surgical bowel complications that can happen after an appendectomy.

Rather than the pediatrician investigating the possibility of a postoperative bowel complication and a physical examination of the bowel, which the lawsuit alleges is the standard of care, the pediatrician sent Kamiya home with an oral medication after diagnosing the child with pinworms, which are a type of human intestinal worm infections.

The following day, on May 5, Kamiya was found by her grandmother unresponsive and without a pulse. Despite being rushed to the Emergency Department of Children’s Hospital and being given four rounds of pediatrics advanced life support with interventions, she was pronounced dead just before 8:00pm that evening.

An autopsy by the Jefferson County Coroner & Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Kamiya died due to an undiagnosed and untreated postsurgical bowel complication, which showed a segment of ischemic and necrotic bowel near the appendectomy site, with two locations where the intestines were twisted, causing bowel obstruction.

Robinson and her attorney’s allege that had Kamiya received the proper standard of care during her pediatrician follow up on May 4, when presenting well documented signs of post-appendectomy bowel complications, the condition could have been properly treated to save her life.

Defendants named in the complaint include Alabama Children’s Health System Inc. d/b/a Children’s of Alabama, Colin Martin, MD, Theresa Bolus, MD, and any other unknown parties responsible for the failure in diagnosing Kamiya’s undiagnosed bowel complication as defendants.

The lawsuit presents claims of wrongful death and medical negligence, accusing the defendants of breaching the applicable standards of care by negligently failing to properly evaluate Kamiya with medical imaging and physical examination following her appendectomy.

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