His life nearly went down the tubes.
Doctors at Elmhurst Medical Center left a 10-inch breathing tube in a Queens man’s body — and didn’t realize the mistake or retrieve it for an astounding 30 more years, according to a lawsuit.
“I just feel like … a little angry. Just for the simple fact that they left this inside of me,” the former patient, Rene Remache, 39, told The Post. “It could have been worse than what the outcome was. I thank God I am still here. I have a beautiful daughter that I might not have been raising.”
The twisted tale began when Remache fell out of a second-story window in April 1989 when he was just 6 years old. At the time he was living in Woodside with his grandparents who immigrated from Ecuador.
He was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital with a skull fracture and was placed on a ventilator and breathing tube. His medical records from the time report he was “agitated” by the tubes and was “pulling” at them. Hours later, those same records say, he “self extubated.”
Remache says it’s the only time in his life he’s ever received a such a tube and his lawyers are convinced he swallowed some or all of the device while at Elmhurst — and his doctors failed to notice.
Over the years, Remache says he’s suffered from intermittent stomach ailments — often receiving treatment at Elmhurst, but to no avail. Remache, who has long relied on Medicaid for medical coverage, said the hospital never performed any test that could have discovered the tube during his various trips to the ER.
“I had a couple of visits to the hospital because of my stomach, throwing up and pain and I really did’t know where it came from and eventually I just decided to just treat it as just a regular stomach thing and just stop going anymore. Nobody could tell me what it was,” he said.
Things came to a head during a family trip to Mexico in 2019 when Remache says he started feeling worse than usual.
“It was a weird feeling in my chest and throat area which i never felt before and I just felt like there was something stuck there, something really bothering my breathing,” he recalled. A Mexican clinic said he had bronchitis and sent him home with antibiotics — but the problem persisted.
When he was back in New York, a CAT scan at Mt. Sinai Medical Center finally found the culprit — the old tube resting inside along the greater curvature of his stomach. Remache said he was shocked.
“My jaw just dropped. I had no idea how it got there,” Remache said.
The endotracheal tube was finally removed by surgeons at Maimonides Medical Center on June 24, 2019. Remache had to sue to get the facility to actually hand over the retrieved tube so his could use it as evidence in his malpractice lawsuit against Elmhurst, and its owner, New York City Health and Hospitals.
In legal filings the city insists the tube found in Remache in 2019 is different from the one he would have been intubated with as a child at Elmhurst.
Health and Hospitals declined to comment, but has repeatedly refused to settle the case, said Peter Traub, an attorney for Remache. A trial date has been set for Oct. 11.
Remache says he plans to frame the tube when the litigation is over.
“I am going to keep it as a memory of something that could have ended my life but didn’t and tell my story for my daughter,” he said.
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