The University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore is calling in outside experts to evaluate its surgery department after the state medical examiner ruled for the second time this year that a patient died as a result of a surgical mistake and not natural causes.
Barbara W. Cahn, a hospital vice president, said the independent review would begin within weeks. She declined to comment on the medical examiner's finding last week that Theodore Kozowyj died because surgeons mistakenly sutured shut his intestine.
Cahn said that periodic outside reviews are standard procedure at academic medical centers. She said the review also was prompted by Kozowyj's case and that of a 67-year-old South Carolina woman who died after surgery last November.
State Medical Examiner Dr. John E. Smialek last week ordered that Kozowyj's death certificate be changed. The first death certificate had stated that the 82-year-old cancer patient died because of "cardiopulmonary insufficiency."
In a letter sent Thursday to Kozowyj's son, Smialek said his investigation found that the death was accidental.
In the earlier case, an initial death certificate for Margaret Lesch said the 67-year-old woman had died of cardiac arrest for unknown reasons. But an assistant state medical examiner later concluded that Lesch died as a result of bleeding from a jugular vein cut accidentally as surgeons attempted to insert a catheter.