Articles Posted in Anesthesiology Errors

Sharon Kimble, 50, suffered from chronic back pain. She took opioid pain medication and other drugs to alleviate her back pain. Kimble underwent back surgery at Laser Spine Institute to address her back pain.

Following this surgery, she was under the care of an anesthesiologist, Dr. Glen Rubenstein. Dr. Rubenstein ordered several essential nervous system depressants, including Dilaudid and Flexeril for pain control.

The Laser Spine Institute discharged Kimble two hours after her surgery to a nearby hotel with a prescription for oxycodone and instructions to continue her preoperative medications, including other central nervous system depressants.
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On May 13, 2015, Millicent Mnookin suffered a sudden drop in oxygen followed by cardiac arrest while she was under general anesthesia for surgery at Northwest Community Hospital. She was taken to an intensive care unit but died just two weeks later.

Mnookin’s husband, Barry Mnookin, who was appointed executor of her estate, filed a lawsuit against several defendants, including Northwest Community Hospital and Dr. Syed Ahmed, who had been her anesthesiologist. The lawsuit alleged negligence by Dr. Ahmed as an employee of Northwest Community Hospital.

During the discovery process, her husband’s attorney sent Northwest Community Hospital requests for production of documents. The hospital filed a privilege log, identifying 24 documents that it asserted were privileged and protected from discovery under the Medical Studies Act. He moved for an in-camera inspection of all of the allegedly privileged documents. In response, the trial court asked Northwest Community to “redact the portion of each privileged document for which [Northwest] claimed privileged.” Northwest redacted the entire text of every document, leaving only the printed headline.
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Harriet Cook, 83, suffered from a degenerative spinal condition in her neck. A pain management specialist, Dr. Michael Rubeis, did a fluoroscopic cervical epidural injection to help with Cook’s pain symptoms. During the procedure, Cook complained of pain. Nevertheless, Dr. Rubeis continued.

Afterwards, Cook discovered that her arms and legs were paralyzed. Her left arm remained paralyzed, which prevented her from living independently as she did before the procedure. Before she passed away, Cook sued Dr. Rubeis’ group, alleging negligent performance of the epidural injection. Cook claimed that Dr. Rubeis chose not to ascertain the location of the needle, leading him to inject steroid solution directly into Cook’s spinal cord, breaching the dura and causing nerve damage.

The jury returned a verdict of $3.5 million. However, the parties settled for an undisclosed amount.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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