Man Sues Dallas Doc, McKinney Hospital After Losing Testicle, Length of Colon Due to Allegedly Botched Hernia Surgery
Pedro Hermenegildo didn't have insurance, so he paid Dr. Ricardo Rocha in cash to repair a hernia, a fairly routine, outpatient procedure. But according to a lawsuit filed against Rocha in a Dallas County district court last week, Hermenegildo lost much more than his hernial bulge.
The surgery was performed in Rocha's clinic, "in a room no different than that which is typical of a primary care physician," the complaint alleges. "It was a small room with the usual brown reclining chair covered with white paper." Hermenegildo claims there was no anesthesiologist present, and that Rocha used only ketamine, described in this case as a "local numbing agent" "frequently used by veterinarians." Instead of a simple, one-hour outpatient procedure, Hermenegildo says it lasted an "excruciating" eight hours.
"Ultimately, Rocha called it quits," the suit claims. "Rocha wanted to go home and told Pedro he needed to leave the clinic." Hermenegildo's attorney could not be reached for comment, but the complaint says that his unnamed pastor, who was also a Dallas Police officer, intervened and Hermenegildo was allowed to stay. He was sent home the next day.
At home, Hermenegildo alleges his pain intensified. He says he was "scream(ing) in agony and even passed out from the pain." That evening, he claims someone called 911. Hermenegildo says he had to be removed from his home through the bedroom window. He was transported Medical Center of McKinney with "unbelievable pain and a grotesquely swollen scrotum."
The lawsuit alleges that, because he didn't have insurance, the medical center "did not make a proper medical evaluation to assess Pedro's condition. Instead, he says they "sent Pedro on his way relatively soon after his arrival and simply told him to take basic medication for pain and inflammation.
Medical Center of McKinney, for its part, denies the allegations. "We are aware of Mr. Hermenegildo's allegations and regret his unfortunate outcome. However, we vigorously dispute his allegations that the Medical Center of McKinney is responsible for his condition," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Later on, Rocha paid his patient a visit, the complaint says, "at the insistence of family," but "belittled" him and called him a "whiner and complainer." Hermenegildo, he allegedly told the family, was merely acting like "a big baby." After another night spent in "unbearable" pain, Hermenegildo's wife, Catalina, who is also a plaintiff, took him to the emergency room at Presbyterian Hospital. Doctors discovered his abdomen was "filled with fecal matter. An immediate surgery was needed to prevent his imminent death," the suit alleges.
In the operating room, physicians found that Rocha had "severed" Hermenegildo's colon, he claims. "In a futile effort to repair the damage, Rocha tied off Pedro's colon far too tightly cutting off needed circulation." Surgeons allegedly removed six to 12 inches of his colon and one of his testicles. The incision, the complaint alleges, was "gigantic -- he was opened up, it says, from the top of his chest to the bottom of his abdomen. "The complications associated with extraction of gangrenous intestines also left Pedro with a colostomy bag.
Hermenegildo claims he was out of work for an extended period of time and that he lost his house as a result. For the moment, he says he can't afford to have the colostomy reversed. He's seeking unspecified damages from Rocha and the Medical Center of McKinney for gross negligence.
Rocha, it turns out, does have a disciplinary record with the state medical board. The octogenarian physician was publicly reprimanded in 2003 and had his medical license restricted from practicing obstetrical medicine or providing prenatal care. The board accused him of failing to keep adequate medical records on a patient with a prior C-section and failing to provide proper prenatal care. What's more, they accused him of failing to make a "timely referral" to a hospital. Rocha's license was suspended in 2004 for failing to comply with the terms of his settlement. The suspension was lifted two years later.
Rocha hasn't yet responded to a request for comment.