NEW MILFORD, CT — A settlement has been reached in a malpractice suit brought against Dr. Ramon Mabasa and New Milford Hospital by a woman whose left leg had to be amputated as a result of complications from spinal surgery performed at the hospital in 2005.
Harwinton resident Eileen Kelleher, 63, the plaintiff, reached a $5.25 million settlement with Mabasa and the hospital at the end of September, according to Litchfield Superior Court documents.
The suit alleged that Mabasa, who performed an “anterior transabdominal approach to the lumbosacral spine,” on Kelleher and the hospital staff that took care of Kelleher in the intensive care unit after her June 6, 2005, surgery, failed to properly care for and treat her, resulting in the loss of her left leg.
“Eileen Kelleher is one of the most heinously injured clients that we have ever had,” Attorney Joel T. Faxon, of the firm Stratton Faxon, said Thursday . “It’s amazing she survived.”
Mabasa, who was the hospital’s chief of surgery at the time, is now retired.
His attorney, Richard O’Connor, of the firm Sachner & O’Connor, declined comment Thursday. O’Connor said he could not comment on the settlement “as a confidentiality agreement is in place.”
New Milford Hospital Director of Marketing Linda Wiseman similarly said Thursday that the hospital could not comment as “the settlement has a confidentiality clause and we are obligated to abide by that.”
Faxon said that Kelleher
went into New Milford Hospital in 2005 to have “an elective back surgery.”
Dr. Mabasa, who had experience in general surgery, performed the initial portion of the surgery that exposed the spine.
“Dr. Mabasa is no longer with the hospital,” Faxon said. “But at the time, his job was to do the vascular surgery. He is not a vascular surgeon. He is a general surgeon.”
According to the lawsuit filed in September 2007, during Kelleher’s post-operative recovery in the intensive care unit, she suffered intra-abdominal hemorrhaging, post-operative bleeding, abdominal wounds, and other severe complications that the medical staff did not appropriately diagnose or treat, resulting in a gangrenous lower leg condition that required an above-the-knee amputation.
The lawsuit suggests that the nursing staff did not properly supervise or monitor Kelleher’s care and when complications arose her physicians were not notified promptly so adequate medical interventions could be made.
In 2004, Mabasa was disciplined by the state Department of Public Health in relation to an accusation that in November 2002, Mabasa scheduled the repair of a hernia in a woman who had just undergone a Caesarean section but mistakenly performed a minor surgical operation on the wrong side, Faxon argued in the suit.
In that case, Mabasa opted against a full hearing to contest the action and signed a consent order related to the facts in the case. He was required to pay a civil penalty of $5,000.
At the time of her planned back surgery, Faxon said, Kelleher was unaware Mabasa was to be involved in her surgery until just before the procedure was to take place. He said that denied her an opportunity to check on his credentials, which would have indicated prior medical malpractice complaints.
As part of the lawsuit against the hospital, Faxon arranged for two independent medical personnel — a 39-year health care administrator and a registered nurse certified in nursing administration — to provide their findings.
Based on legal procedure, the independent professionals are not identified in suit documents, Faxon said.
Their findings alleged Mabasa’s surgical procedure prompted complications he did not diagnose in a timely manner.
In addition, Faxon’s experts deemed that the intensive care nurses did not recognize Kelleher was facing a vascular emergency and failed to promptly notify Mabasa of the patient’s escalating complications.
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