Family sues scandal-hit New York hospital after woman suffers brain damage

A senior citizen's family is suing a New York hospital after she was left in a vegetative state following blunders during a routine hernia operation last summer.

The attorneys for Patricia Imperati's family claimed that a grotesque "comedy of errors" at Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx -- including an allegedly botched incision to start the procedure, a significant internal bleed and a putrid infection left untreated for weeks -- left the 69-year-old badly brain-damaged.

One of her daughters, also named Patricia Imperati, said, "My mom said, 'Dr. Lee, I'm going in for this surgery, and I'm coming out and I'm going home.' She still hasn't come home, nine months later."

She described how the family watched her mother deteriorate over the course of three weeks after the surgery, when she first developed a "giant hematoma" on her left side and an infection that smelled horribly after that bleed was drained off.

Her daughter added, "I saw her dwindle away. She wasn't eating. She couldn't hold her head up."

Marc Albert, representing the elder Patricia -- who he said now is confined to a nursing home with her eyes closed most of the time -- blamed Montefiore and blamed Lee for the "very significant brain injury" she suffered.

He said, "It was almost a comedy of errors. This is a case of inept medical care from start to finish."

Albert said that not only was the initial incision not properly closed, leading to a lot of internal bleeding, but "there was absolutely nothing done for weeks on end" about her infection.

By the time another surgery was done to address the infection, he said, the woman from Middletown, N.J., was found to be suffering from a "Stage 4 bedsore" -- one so bad that it went down to her bone.

It is the latest scandal to hit the hospital.

Last month, a live organ donor died at Montefiore as she tried to donate her kidney to her ailing brother. The hospital was investigating the death of Yolanda Medina, 41, after her aorta was cut during the surgery.

A spokesman said of Imperati's lawsuit, "While we empathize with the patient and family, we strongly dispute their version of the events in this case."

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