February 17th, 2010
02:53 PM ET
13 years ago

Navy opens review of care it gave deceased Rep. Murtha

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/17/art.murtha.file.gi.jpg caption="The National Naval Medical Center will review care provided to Rep. John Murtha."]Washington (CNN) - The National Naval Medical Center has opened a review of the surgical care provided to the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, who died last week following complications from a recent surgery.

A senior US military official declined to speak on the record citing privacy concerns but confirmed to CNN the review includes an in-depth "quality assurance" and review of the outcomes of the care Murtha received.

The Navy is keeping the Murtha family apprised of its findings.

While at the Navy's hospital in Bethesda, Maryland Murtha had his gallbladder removed on January 28 using a laparoscopic surgical technique. He later became ill and died at Virginia Hospital Center - a local civilian hospital the Washington DC area - on February 8. He was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit on January 31.

Military sources say its believed Murtha's intestine may have been nicked during the initial procedure leading to massive infection. In a statement to CNN earlier this month, a source close to the congressman told CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that was the case.

"He went in for a routine minimally invasive surgery, was discharged, they hit his intestines," Cohen was told by the source close to Murtha.

The review is being conducted to determine if Murtha died due to a preventable surgical error and whether any action against those who did the surgery is potentially warranted. The official emphasized the review is being conducted just as it would in other hospitals which review unexpected deaths. Procedures for such reviews are spelled out by the Joint Commission, a board of 29 people including physicians, nurses, hospital administrators and other health care experts who spell out stands of care.

The military official said the review of the care Murtha received includes:

- a "mortality and morbidity conference" meeting by caregivers and other officials to review exactly what happened
- a quality assurance investigation by "uninvolved" subject matter experts
- a review by a "multi disciplinary patient safety committee"

Filed under: John Murtha
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Tracy

    My condolences to Mr. Murtha's family.

    February 17, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. Rick

    Glad to see that the Navy did a good job for once!

    February 17, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. la

    Unfortunately, it looks like the doctors at Bethesda screwed up. This cost us a great man who supprt of the military was unwavering.

    February 17, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. S Callahan

    So sad for his family but in defense of the medical community it would only be proper if an autospy could answer these questions. Doctors are human, errors do happen but MOST Doctors try to correct any error. I suspect this 'rip' (laser?) was so small that even the Doctors weren't able to confirm it. Goes to show, God ALWAYS has the last word...the beginning and the end only comes from Him.

    February 17, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. Joe, Boston

    Loved that guy! He will definitely be missed.

    February 17, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |