The case involved a patient who suffered an epidural abscess and permanently lost control of his bowel and bladder. The patient visited the defendant gastroenterologist after not having had a bowel movement for two weeks, and the gastroenterologist recommended that the patient go to an emergency room. When the patient refused, the gastroenterologist ordered X-rays for him that did not show a bowel obstruction, and the patient went home. Later that day, the patient finally went to the hospital after losing feeling in his extremities, falling at home and fracturing his ankle. Doctors then found the patient’s epidural abscess.
The plaintiff argued that the patient should have been sent to the emergency room immediately. Mr. Ruiz and Mr. Aucoin countered that the time between the patient’s office visit with the gastroenterologist and his emergency room admission was so short that it made no difference in the patient’s outcome. The judge issued a directed verdict in the gastroenterologist’s favor.