In August of 2012, 48 year old Annette Ramirez went to the hospital for a hysterectomy. She was happily married with children 8 and 12 years old. She was planning on going home the next day. Annette's surgery was done laparoscopically, a type of minimally invasive surgery available for decades. Instead of creating a large incision to reach the vital organs, a surgeon operates through several small incisions. A Camera is placed in one incision and instruments are inserted through the others. A known complication is that the doctor may inadvertently cut or slice an organ or body part, and for that reason the patient must be monitored for signs and symptoms of complications afterward.
During Annette's surgery, the surgeon unknowingly sliced her bowel.
Diligent post-operative care would have revealed that problem. But for more than 36 hours the nurses failed to report her abnormal vital signs which were the classic symptoms of a leaky bowel. Meanwhile, her doctors failed to adequately follow-up to check her condition after surgery. The result was that an infection spread throughout her system, causing Annette to go into septic shock. In such instances, the body begins to shut down circulation to save the brain and other vital organs. This lack of circulation causes death and the destruction of tissue. In Annette's case, gangrene spread to her four extremities and other parts of her body. The result of this failure to diagnose her condition led to the amputation of her arms and legs as well as the excision of flesh from multiple areas of her body.
In the 18 months following, Annette was in hospitals continuously. She has undergone more than 100 surgeries or skin grafts. Her family has watched helplessly as she experienced several near death events.