The mother of a friend of mine from church went to an Illinois hospital to have an angioplasty, and then died from the procedure. My friend said her mother had actually bled to death in the hospital. Is this even possible?

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Sadly, it is. Many cardiac procedures, such as angioplasty, angiography, insertion of catheters, and the like, require the doctors to insert their instruments into the femoral artery in a person’s groin area, and then thread the instrument through the body and into the arteries that feed the heart. In most cases, the hole they put into the femoral artery is closed after the surgery, or closes up on its own, but sometimes it doesn’t, or sometimes it opens up later. This is why doctors and nurses are trained and required by the standards of care to watch a patient closely after such procedures to see if they are still bleeding. They will look for things like loss of blood pressure (if a person leaks blood, their pressure will drop), increased heart rate, drop in urine output, swelling in the groin area, and back pain(blood from a leak in the femoral artery will sometimes leak into the abdomen and spaces around the back and cause back pain). It is medical or nursing negligence to not watch for bleeding after such operations.

Although cardiac procedures are the ones that most commonly result in bleeding to death in a hospital, they are not the only ones. Any surgery, but especially abdominal surgeries, can leave a patient with internal bleeding. If that patient is not monitored for bleeding, or if the bleeding is missed, the patient is at risk of bleeding to death. Bleeding to death in a hospital is almost always caused by medical negligence and must be looked at by a law firm experienced in handling medical malpractice cases. Medical malpractice is the only type of case we handle at Cirignani Heller & Harman (, and many of our lawyers are also medical professionals—Stan Heller is a board-certified cardiologist from Johns Hopkins, Jim Harman was a certified respiratory therapist before becoming a lawyer, and Patrice Koch remains a registered nurse. We leverage our combined medical and legal expertise to give our clients state-of-the-art legal representation, and a review of their cases free of charge or commitment.

(Note, while this question is technically a hypothetical one, it is based very closely on a real case handled by our law firm).

Answered 08/01/2013

Disclaimer: This answer was provided by an attorney selected to Super Lawyers, and is intended to be an educated opinion only. This answer should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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