Patient Advocate

Helen Haskell

Founder of Mothers Against Medical Error

Several days after surgery to repair a condition called pectus excavatum (a structural defect in which the chest wall does not grow straight), Lewis experienced “the worst pain imaginable.” It was the first indication that Lewis had a perforated ulcer, a side effect of medication he was being given for pain. It was three days out of surgery and Lewis should have been getting better. But the pain in his stomach area—not in his chest, where he had the operation—was not better. In a hospital with modern technology and vast technical resources, this healthy 15-year-old bled to death over 30 hours while those caring for him missed signs that he was in grave peril. Experts said that Lewis wasn’t properly monitored. A routine blood test probably would have shown Lewis was bleeding internally, but it was never ordered.