The case of Hall versus Hilbun is a case in which an exploratory surgery was conducted to try to locate a possible blockage in the small bowel to alleviate abdominal pain. Mrs. Hall went into the hospital complaining of abdominal pain, upon being seen by doctors she was treated by a general surgeon by the name of Dr. Hilbun who stated he thought the pain was due to a blockage in the small bowel and thought an exploratory surgery was deemed appropriate for treatment. Mrs Hall consented to the surgery and at first things went seemingly well. After surgery Mrs. Hall was awake and communicating, Dr. Hilbun accompanied her back to the private room that she would be staying in and stayed with her for some time.
Her vital signs has been consistently within the appropriate range since she awoke after surgery, therefore Dr. Hilbun felt it would be ok if he left the hospital for the night. Throughout the remainder of the evening Mrs. Hall frequently complained of pain in her abdomen, nothing substantial was done in an effort to eliminate this pain nor did the nursing staff contact Dr. Hilbun at any point in time. Dr. Hilbun never contacted the hospital, nursing staff or Mrs. Hall to check on her condition and ensure that she was still stable.
Only after Mrs. Hall’s condition has quickly deteriorated was Dr. Hilbun contacted by the hospital. By the time he had received the call and arrived to the hospital it was too late and Mrs. Hall had already passed away. Upon Mrs. Hall’s death an autopsy was completed to try to aquire a cause of death. During this autopsy it was reveiled that a sponge had been left in Mrs. Halls’ abdomen during the exploratory surgery that Dr. Hilbun had previously completed. However, this sponge was determined to not be the cause of death. Upon learning the finds of the autopsy Mr. Hall decided to file a malpractice case against Dr. Hilbun alleging that he failed to give attending nursing staff proper care instructions for Mrs. Hall nor had he provided her case with proper post-surgery follow up.
Mr. Hall and her lawyers were able to find an expert witness by the name of Dr. Hoerr to provide testimony proving the alleged malpractice. During the trial Dr. Hoerr’s testimony was thrown out and deemed inaccurate due to the fact that he was not familiar with the local standard of care a patient would receive from a different doctor in the general area. This case is extremely relevant to what is known as the four D’s of negligence; duty, dereliction, direct cause and damages.
Duty is when a doctor and a patient have formed a relationship and said doctor has taken on the responsibility of taking care of the patient. Dereliction or failure to perform a duty, there must be some kind of proof that the doctor somehow neglected the doctor neglected the patient. Direct cause, there must be some kind of proof that what happened to the patient was a direct cause of how the doctor conducted himself or his failure to act which resulted in injury. Damages a patient must prove that harm was incurred by the direct result of the physicians actions. Upon reviewing the four D’s I think that it is clear that Mrs. Halls death was not a direct result of Dr. Hilbuns actions or lack of action. While the surgery did result in a sponge being left in Mrs. Hall’s abdomen that sponge did not directly result in her death.
Dr. Hilbun stayed with Mrs. Hall until she was awake and able to hold a coherent conversation, her vitals where also normal when Dr. Hilbun left the hospital, still able to be contacted in the case of an emergency. His ability to be able to be contacted and come to the hospital was demonstrated when he was called early the following morning when it was too late for him to be able to save Mrs. Hall.