Articles Posted in Anesthesiology Errors

The Florida Supreme Court has struck down a state law that capped noneconomic damages in medical malpractice injury lawsuits that stood at $1 million. The high court found that the law violates the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution.

In this 4-3 decision, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the Fourth District Court of Appeals’ 2015 decision that found that the cap, established by Florida statute, does not pass the rational basis test because the law arbitrarily reduces medical malpractice claimants’ rights to full compensation when there are multiple claimants and because it “does not bear a rational relationship” to its stated purpose of addressing an alleged medical malpractice insurance crisis in the state.

The decision relied heavily on the Florida Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Estate of McAll v. United States that struck down the cap on noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases for many of the same reasons.
Continue reading

Antonio Marrero, 32, was seen at the Walanae Coast Comprehensive Center, which is a federally qualified health center. He went to the facility complaining of a sore throat.

Marrero was diagnosed with having a peritonsillar abscess, which required evaluation by an otolaryngologist. A health center physician decided to evaluate Marrero under sedation and subsequently administered the drug Etomidate. Etomidate is a short-acting intravenous drug used in general anesthesia and for sedation of patients for short procedures.

In this case when Etomidate was given, Marrero lost consciousness and died. The cause of death was determined to be oxygen deprivation resulting in anoxia.
Continue reading

A Colorado jury has signed its verdict for $14.9 million to a couple in Colorado. This medical negligence lawsuit alleged that an outpatient surgery center was negligent in administering a steroid that caused Robbin Smith’s paralysis from the waist down.

The jury determined that The Surgery Center at Lone Tree LLC, the defendant in the case, was negligent in treating Smith in 2013 by injecting a steroid called Kenalog in her spine despite the drug company’s warning. Two years before the injection was done, the drug maker of the steroid drug, Kenalog announced that Kenalog should not be used for epidural procedures as Smith was given.

The Colorado jury found that the surgery center’s negligence and its choosing not to obtain Smith’s informed consent to the steroid injection was a cause of her paralysis. This record-setting verdict was entered on March 23, 2017.
Continue reading

Lee Lyman was 51 years old when he underwent successful aortic valve surgery at Sacred Heart River Bend Medical Center.  Anesthesia was provided by Dr. Albert Cho of Northwest Anesthesia, P.C. While in the operating room, Lyman began to experience ventricular fibrillation. He was given electrical shock and prescribed medications, which included 150 milligrams of antiarrhythmic Amiodarone, to be given over a 30-minute period.

Instead of giving the prescribed dose, Dr. Cho gave Lyman 2,700 milligrams of Amiodarone, which came from a combination of 3 separate 900-mg bottles. After Lyman received the excessive dose, his heart stopped pumping adequate blood. This led to anoxic brain damage and partial paralysis. Lyman will need 24-hour per day care for the rest of his life. He had been a millwright earning about $21 per hour before the surgery.

Lyman, through a representative for his disabled person’s estate, brought a lawsuit against the corporation that owned the hospital, Dr. Cho and Northwest Anesthesia claiming negligent administration of an excessive dose of Amiodarone.

Continue reading

In November 2008, Anil R. Shah, a medical doctor who practices facial surgery and otolaryngology, performed several outpatient plastic surgery procedures for Daniel Green in the doctor’s Schaumburg, Ill., office. The procedures did not require general anesthesia and were performed under local anesthetic in Dr. Shah’s outpatient office.

Although Green was not given a general anesthetic, Dr. Shah gave him both Valium and Phenergan, medications designed to sedate a patient as well as prevent nausea.

Dr. Shah testified at trial that Green was lucid and talking throughout the operation. Dr. Shah also said Green was aware and able to understand instructions.

Continue reading

Gary, 44, suffered from chronic neck pain. He underwent a cervical injection procedure at a surgical center and was treated by an anesthesiologist. After Gary was placed lying faced down during this procedure, the surgical staff discovered that Gary was not breathing. He was resuscitated and hospitalized. However, Gary died six months later due to complications from hypoxia or a deprivation of oxygen, which undoubtedly occurred while he was undergoing the cervical injection and was not breathing.

Gary had been a railroad worker earning about $90,000 a year and was survived by his wife and two minor children.

Gary’s family filed a lawsuit against the anesthesiologist alleging that the doctor chose not to monitor Gary during the cervical injection procedure and failed to timely respond to the fact that Gary’s vital signs showed signs of hypoxia. It was also maintained that the doctor chose not to intervene before Gary suffered the hypoxic event.

Continue reading

Mr. Doe, 60, underwent an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram at a local hospital. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCM) is a procedure that allows medical providers to examine and better analyze bile ducts. The procedure is done with an endoscope. Bile ducts are those tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and then to the small intestine. The procedure was done to diagnose and treat problems with the pancreatic ductal systems.

During this procedure, complications arose and Mr. Doe passed away. He had been a corporate executive earning $143,000 annually and is survived by his minor son, who filed a lawsuit against the certified registered nurse anesthetist who attended the procedure. He alleged negligent management of Mr. Doe’s anesthesia, including choosing not to insert a Glidescope when complications developed. A Glidescope is a means in which to provide a patient with a video of clear airway views to allow for a quick ET tube placement in case of a problem. The use of a Glidescope would have been important in allowing for an immediate and urgent way of placing an ET tube to save Mr. Doe’s life.

The parties reached a confidential settlement.

Continue reading

Brett L., 12, underwent a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy at a children’s’ hospital. After the procedure, Brett was extubated and transferred to the hospital’s post-anesthesia care unit (PACU).

Over the next 90 minutes, Brett‘s parents noticed that he was snoring. A nurse refused the parents’ request that Brett be repositioned. The parents then sought other help and found a nurse’s aide who turned Brett over to find that he was not breathing at all.

Despite resuscitation efforts, Brett died. He was survived by his parents and two siblings.

Continue reading

Gwendolyn Brown was a 50-year-old woman who had been suffering from back pain. She underwent three epidural steroid injections that were given by a pain specialist, Dr. Dennis Doherty, at the Southeastern Pain Ambulatory Surgery Center. During the third epidural procedure, which was done under conscious sedation, it became difficult for the doctor and assistants to maintain Brown’s airway, and she stopped breathing for periods of times. Dr. Doherty and his nursing assistant continued with the procedure, even though his patient was not breathing from time to time.

Brown was later transferred to a hospital where she was diagnosed as having severe anoxic brain damage, which is the condition that follows a period of time when the brain is not fully or sufficiently oxygenated. Most severely brain damaged patients lose many cognitive and motor functions that include speech, sight, walking and other extremely debilitating deficits. Unfortunately, Brown died six years later. She was survived by her husband and three adult children.

Brown’s husband on behalf of her estate and family sued the surgery center, Dr. Doherty and his employer for medical negligence alleging failure to timely respond to an emergency situation during the epidural procedure — that period of time when Brown was unable to breath. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants should have turned Brown over from the prone position, provided a bag mask and started CPR in light of her critical oxygen status.

Continue reading

Anthony Bausal was transported by ambulance to the emergency department at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, Ill., on Sept. 20, 2008. Bausal had a cellulitis infection in his left leg, increased pain and shortness of breath. He also had underlying conditions of lupus nephritis, cardiomyopathy and chronic anemia.

Bausal, 34, was admitted into the hospital, where additional testing showed that he had a dangerously low cardiac ejection fraction of 20-25% (55% is considered normal), which is the measure of how the well or poorly the heart is pumping out blood through the body. He also had acute anemia and a gastric ulcer with erosive gastritis of the stomach.

One of the defendants, a general surgeon, Dr. Darryl Fernandes, was consulted on Sept. 25, 2008 because of concern about an infectious process in Bausal’s left leg.

Continue reading