Muskogee girl dies after surgery is delayed

Friday, January 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Muskogee family is grieving after the death of their little girl. 5-year-old Elizabeth Gatzman suffered from a throat condition that apparently cut off her breathing.

Her family says the surgery to correct it was postponed. The condition was apparently correctable, and for some reason, the surgery wasn't done soon enough. The family says Elizabeth had growths in her throat that, when they got big enough, would block her airway.

They say she had already had at least one surgery to remove them. But this condition is recurring. So she reportedly had another surgery scheduled for last week. The family says it was postponed until this week.

On Monday, Elizabeth's family says she stopped breathing and was rushed to Muskogee hospital. She was then airlifted to St Francis Hospital in Tulsa where she died on Wednesday. The family's attorney says he still has a lot of questions to ask about the case. Bill Settle, Attorney: "The only information I have at this point is that surgery was scheduled for last week, for some reason was re-scheduled to this week I believe it was Wednesday of this week and she of course had problem where I think they had to do some CPR."

The family says the surgery was supposed to happen at St John Medical Center in Tulsa. St John officials were not able to comment on that. But they say there was no cancellation of any treatment. The family has indicated there was some sort of problem with their insurance but couldn't say anymore at this time.

We wish the facts were more clear in this case but it's obvious that something somewhere went wrong, or this little girl would still be alive. We'll continue to follow the case and let you know more when we have it.