HUNTINGTON – A Cabell County man is suing a physician at Cabell Huntington Hospital and the hospital itself after complications from a gastric bypass surgery caused him to be hospitalized for three months.

In a suit filed Jan. 3, William Shaffer claims he entered a comatose state for three months because of the negligence of David A. Denning, M.D., and the hiring practices of Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Shaffer decided to undergo open gastric bypass surgery after attending Cabell Huntington Hospital's Weight Loss Clinic and information seminars. Shaffer's physician, Dr. Kevin Milam, and Denning deemed Shaffer in medical need of the weight loss surgery.

On Dec. 4, 2003, Denning performed the surgery. According to the suit, he did so using "a technique that is not and should not be performed by surgeons performing bariatric surgery."

Shaffer was released by re-admitted two days later with symptoms of a leak in his intestines. The suit claims physicians should have known that Shaffer had undergone gastric bypass surgery days earlier and was in need of immediate surgical attention.

However, the suit alleges physicians failed to recognize his symptoms and delayed calling a surgeon. Shaffer was eventually treated and maintained in a comatose state for three months, where he subsequently developed bed sores on his buttocks, neck and feet.

According to the suit, the sores developed because Shaffer was kept in a hospital bed that was "not large enough to adequately handle his size."

Shaffer is suing Denning for negligence and Cabell Huntington Hospital for negligent hiring, claiming the hospital failed to hire a properly trained and educated bariatric surgeon.

The case has been assigned to Judge David M. Pancake.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 06-C-6

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