According to a hospital malpractice lawsuit filed earlier this week, doctors at the San Mateo Medical Center acted negligently when they left a five inch catheter in Alan Paolucci’s heart after it broke off in 2003. What’s worse, it’s also alleged that the mistake was then covered up.
The 52 year old was undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when the catheter being used to administer chemotherapy snapped and a part of it was left behind.
The five inch piece eventually became lodged in his heart, resulting in a life threatening infection and permanent damage to the organ.
Perhaps even more egregious is the fact that according to Paolucci’s attorney Derek Longstaff, the apparatus was actually detected as early as March 2006. However doctors didn’t inform Paolucci about the wayward catheter until July 2, 2008.
Paolucci then underwent open heart surgery in August to remove the catheter, but he ended up losing a heart valve in the process.
The failed valve was replaced, however the plaintiff feels that this has weakened the state of his heart, and is a key contributor to his continued battle with cancer, which has returned after being in remission for a year.
Paolucci is suing the county, the medical center, medical center CEO Dr. Sang-Ick Chang and Dr. Thomas Chen. The damages being sought are for negligence, hospital malpractice, fraud and battery.