Shirley Lipskey Patterson, Richmond, Ca.

Woman dies after surgery, hours of pain; autopsy shows perforated duodenum (as told by her sister Betty Peacock)

My sister Shirley became sick on March 10, 1997. She was vomiting and had severe stomach cramps. The next day she had to leave her job as a teacher and go home. When her pain grew worse she went to the Kaiser Richmond Emergency Room. She was transferred from there to Kaiser Oakland. We were told she had a gallstone. She was transferred to the intensive care unit where she was deemed critically ill. On March 22, 1997 she was moved to another unit and on March 24, 1997, she was scheduled for surgery at Kaiser Oakland.

The family was planning a trip to Hawaii on April 10. The doctors reassured us that Shirley would be okay and we should not cancel our trip. Our mother, Shirley's sisters, Shirley's son, his wife and their three year old daughter, all went to the hospital to give Shirley courage and love. The surgery lasted about four hours. We were told everything went okay.

Later that day when we saw Shirley she was complaining of a lot of pain. The doctor reassured us it was natural. Shirley kept complaining of pain. Her brother Danny kept insisting that the doctor be paged. The nurses did contact the doctor who told them to inform us that this was all perfectly normal and not to worry.

The doctor did finally come to see Shirley, but it was the following morning. Shirley was still in pain and having trouble breathing. After her vital signs were taken she was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit, where she was hooked up to life support systems.

The doctors told us that Shirley's condition was critical. She had an infection and pancreatitis.

We prayed and prayed. Shirley, who was only 44, fought a long hard battle to stay alive but was taken to our Lord on Easter Sunday morning. Why, why, why if this was a simple surgery did my sister die.

Shirley was a valued teacher, wife, mother, daughter, grandma, aunt, sister and friend. When I first asked the Kaiser doctors for an autopsy and they told me there was no need as they knew why she had died, I had to tearfully insist. When we read the autopsy we saw that Shirley's duodenum had been perforated; Kaiser had never told us this.

Every day this month, CNA will release the story of another Kaiser patient. For information, or to speak to the patient and/or family, contact Gerard Brogan, RN, (415) 437-3328.

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