Lawsuit: She had a simple procedure and wound up with colostomy bag

Digestive Health in Ocean Springs
Digestive Health in Ocean Springs jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

A Biloxi woman claims in a lawsuit filed early last month that Dr. Michael Jay Loebenberg was impaired when he performed her colonoscopy early last year and the procedure left her living with a colostomy bag.

Loebenberg, who practices medicine on the Coast, was arrested on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration complaint this week, accused of selling drugs outside the scope of his professional practice.

The DEA affidavit said he offered an informant prescriptions in exchange for escort services and also offered controlled-substance prescriptions to undercover agents through the informant without any medical examinations or “having a legitimate medical need.” The prescriptions, according to the DEA, included hydrocodone, Adderall, phentermine diet pills and the Adipex stimulant similar to an amphetamine.

Loebenberg is due in federal court on Wednesday to answer the DEA charge.

Staffers asked him to stop

He also is faced with a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court by Karen Miller and her husband.

According to the lawsuit, Loebenberg, a gastrointestinal doctor with Digestive Health Center in Biloxi and Ocean Springs, was impaired when he performed her routine colonoscopy on Jan. 27, 2015, at Ocean Springs Hospital. Miller is also suing Ocean Springs Hospital and Singing River Health System.

According to the suit, which is only one perspective in a case, “unknown to Miller at the time, Loebenberg had a history of working while under the influence of narcotic medications.”

Miller claims that the staff asked Loebenberg to go home, which he refused to do “and was under the influence of a substance ... to an improper degree” when he performed her procedure.

She had the colonoscopy at 3 p.m. and that evening, she had severe abdominal pain, returned to the hospital and saw a doctor who immediately admitted her.

Upon examination, the doctor “discovered that Mrs. Miller had ‘free air’ in her abdominal cavity” and decided to operate.

Second operation performed

During the surgery, the lawsuit claims, the surgeon discovered she had a puncture or cut in her intestines, believed to have happened during the colonoscopy earlier that day.

According to the suit, Dr. Nicholas Fayard performed a colectomy and an ileostomy, which removes all or part of the large intestine and surgically creates a path to divert faeces into a bag. She was hospitalized for days after the surgery and then developed a “non-healing surgical wound,” which required additional treatment.

The lawsuit says Ocean Springs Hospital knew or should have known Loebenberg had previous problems with the use of narcotics.

It says Miller has suffered extreme pain and will continue to suffer and that Loebenberg’s impairment was a breach of contract, intentional and reckless.

It says staff members encouraged Loebenberg to go home and reschedule the procedure and he did not.

The suit says Miller suffered severe injury, owes a lot in medical bills, is in chronic pain and emotional distress and now has a disability as a result of Loebenberg’s actions.

Her attorney, Michael Crosby of Gulfport, notified Singing River Health System earlier this year about Loebenberg’s actions and the pending lawsuit.

According to the DEA criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Loebenberg was fired from Digestive Health Center on or before Aug. 8 and “it is believed that Loebenberg is currently practicing at Merit Health Biloxi and Singing River Health System.

A spokesman for SRHS said Loebenberg is not an employee of the hospital system, but has admitting privileges.

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