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February 9th, 2010
11:00 AM ET

Was medical error to blame for Rep. Murtha's death?

Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha died suddenly yesterday after complications from galbladder surgery. Now many are asking what went wrong?

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains.

Read more: Murtha dies of surgery complications

Filed under: Health • Politics
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Bob

    with condolences to the Murtha family.........

    perhaps this is some sort of divine intervention into the political direction this country has been traveling of late.....perhaps a repeat of MA US Senate special election is on the way

    February 10, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  2. sharon40

    While the repubs are screaming about "tort" reform, I guess Murthas family shouldn't have the right to get a judgment against this doctor or hospital for malpractice. I think that a judge should toss out frivolous lawsuits, but I think it is the right of anyone to address their grievances before a jury or a judge. Oh, I forgot, when you are in repub world, only corporations have the right to free speech. People are only people.

    February 10, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  3. Mel

    First, my condolences to the Murtha family.
    Anyone familiar with laproscopic cholecystectomies knows that an acute or chroniclly inflamed gallbladder can adhere itself to the intestine. And, the close proximity of organs coupled with doing it laparoscopically creates a situation that doesnt' happen often, but does happen. And once that bowel is perforated, bacteria take over.
    IMO, this is one of the hazards of this revolving door approach to major surgery. Insurance companies no longer allow a brief stay in hospital, to monitor a patient. Major surgery – go home! In some cases, a 23 hour stay would allow a nurse to see a spiking temperature, or a rising white blood count - and antibiotics could be administered in time.
    Instead, people are sent home - and by nature, they "wait to see if they'll feel better" until they've waited too long.

    February 10, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  4. A. Smith, Oregon

    Of course a medical error was the result of the death of Murtha!

    His intestine was accidentally cut into during his routine surgery. Wasn't his primary MD. performing any followup care on his post-surgical patient? He would have a chronic high temperature, he would have growing tenderness in that area of his stomach.

    Failure to monitor his patient's post surgical temperature, failure to palpate a growing mass in his stomach, and a growing tenderness in the patients stomach suggests medical malpractice and medical negligence.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:44 am |
  5. Harry in Texas

    So even if the error is caused by the doctor, the patient and his or her health plan are still liable for the cost of correction? Or in this case, for the charges while Murtha was in intensive care for a surgical error?

    Is there something wrong with this picture?

    February 9, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
  6. kyblueLG

    I wouldn't put anything past the Republicans and their evil health care "friends". That's all I have to say about that.

    February 9, 2010 at 11:20 am |