Carlos Saucedo went in for a gastric sleeve procedure a year ago but wound up having both legs amputated above the knee because of negligence on the part of a popular Colleyville bariatric institute and a Grapevine hospital, according to a lawsuit filed in a Tarrant County District Court.
Saucedo, 32, previously of The Colony, is seeking $10 million in damages from Dr. David Kim of Kim Bariatric Institute in Colleyville, three doctors and Baylor Regional Medical Center of Grapevine. Saucedo moved to Laredo after the surgery so his family could care for him.
He claims that the hospital and Kim, along with the doctors who performed the operation and treated him last November — Bridget Holden and Franchell Richard-Hamilton — were “directly negligent.” Dr. Alexander Hatcher, who saw Saucedo in the emergency room at Baylor Grapevine, is also named in the lawsuit.
Timothy Ryan, an attorney representing Kim, Holden and Richard-Hamiltonn said: “We are proceeding with the investigation to make sure we fully understand the issues at play. … We are looking forward to presenting our case in court.”
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In an emailed statement from Baylor Scott & White Health, spokeswoman Julie Smith wrote, “The quality of patient care we provide is of paramount importance to us. As this is pending litigation, we are unable to comment further at this time.”
Saucedo and his wife contacted Kim Bariatric Institute, 5204 Colleyville Blvd., via the Internet in June 2013 after they saw TV and billboard ads for the weight loss center, the lawsuit says. They went to an appointment, underwent a weight loss treatment program and were scheduled for surgery at Baylor Medical Center at Trophy Club.
His wife’s surgery was “uneventful,” says the lawsuit, filed Friday. Saucedo‘s operation was scheduled for Nov. 7, 2013.
The suit alleges that Saucedo initially thought Kim would perform the surgery but learned that Holden would do it. Richard-Hamilton was also in the operating room, although Saucedo didn’t know that and did not consent to her presence there, the lawsuit states.
During the surgery, Richard-Hamilton made an incision and then inserted an instrument called a trocar, which was equipped with a camera to guide the device through Saucedo’s skin and into his abdomen. Saucedo alleges that Richard-Hamilton cut through the aorta — the largest artery in the body — but mistook it for a different artery.
When they noticed a lot of blood in Saucedo’s abdomen and saw his blood pressure falling, they sewed the artery shut, still not realizing it was his aorta, the lawsuit says. This cut off blood supply to his legs, it says.
Once complications arose and after Saucedo lost about 4 liters of blood, he was transferred to Baylor Medical Center Grapevine, where he was in the emergency room and then intensive care for several hours before he was sent to the operating room.
The suit says that initially Hatcher, the admitting physician in the emergency room at Baylor Medical Center Grapevine, did not check for a pulse in Saucedo’s extremities or assess them for warmth, the lawsuit alleges. After Saucedo was transferred to the intensive care unit, the nursing staff “finally ascertained that he had cold and pulseless legs,” it says.
After another operation, a vascular surgeon found a “through and through” laceration of the distal aorta and a segment of the aorta “over-sewn with sutures, according to the lawsuit.
According to court documents, Saucedo’s organs were beginning to fail because the blood flow was cut off, and he underwent bilateral amputations below and then above the knee. He began to recover and was transferred to rehabilitation Dec. 18. He is being fitted for prosthesis and “will require lifetime medical care,” the lawsuit says.
Saucedo alleges that Holden was grossly negligent because she allowed Richard-Hamilton to insert the trocar without adequately monitoring her, which resulted in misidentifying the aorta and sewing it shut. The lawsuit says Holden violated the standards of care that call for physicians to have an understanding of anatomy
“The wrongful conduct of Dr. Holden was so outrageous, open and notorious that the action by Dr. Holden in the face of that conduct could only be the product of conscious indifference to the rights and welfare of Carlos,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit also alleges that Richard-Hamilton was grossly negligent for inserting the trocar into Saucedo’s aorta and then misidentifying it. She is also accused of violating standards of care.
Douglas Wood, Saucedo’s attorney, said his client is in constant pain and also suffers from “phantom” pain where his legs used to be. Wood said Saucedo has at least $500,000 in medical expenses and estimated that his lifelong medical costs would be around $4 million.
“People don’t realize it, but prosthetics must be replaced every eight to 10 years,” he said.
The amputations have also taken a psychological toll, Woods said. Saucedo is divorced and moved to Laredo so relatives can care for him. He still works for the Homeland Security Department but is limited in what he can do, Wood said.
“People need to know that these gastric sleeve procedures are not innocuous,” he said.