$1 Million Dollar Settlement – Wrongful Death
This medical malpractice action arose out of negligent care rendered by a nurse anesthetist, which resulted in the tragic death of the plaintiff. The Defendant’s key responsibility as a nurse anesthetist was, after intubating plaintiff, to monitor her carbon dioxide levels to ensure that she was receiving oxygen from the anesthesia machine while she was anesthetized. Defendant failed to do so, resulting in prolonged pre-operative oxygen deprivation, extensive brain damage, and the death of Plaintiff. The defendant Anesthesiologist’s responsibility was the overall supervision of the anesthesia team, including the defendant nurse anesthetist.
Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for an elective back surgery. On the morning of the scheduled operation, plaintiff was intubated and administered general anesthesia by defendant nurse anesthetist whom was being supervised at the time by defendant anesthesiologist. Shortly after the induction of general anesthesia, before the operation began, plaintiff’s oxygen supply was cut off from the anesthesia machine. Nurse Anesthetist failed to recognize and correct the insufficient of the oxygen supply and plaintiff went into cardiac arrest as a result.
The carbon dioxide readings, which the nurse anesthetist was supposed to be recording, were not on the anesthesiology record for several consecutive time intervals during the critical time period. If he had been properly monitoring and recording the carbon dioxide levels, defendant nurse anesthetist would have noticed that they were significantly elevated and he would have corrected plaintiff’s oxygen deficiency. Unrecognized by either defendant, the oxygen deficiency continued and plaintiff’s brain was starved of oxygen long enough to cause her blood pressure to drop. The low blood pressure was recognized when it occurred, however, by that time, it was too late because she had been deprived of oxygen for too long.
Resuscitation attempts were performed and the crash team was able to get plaintiff’s blood pressure stabilized, however, because of prolonged lack of oxygen to the brain caused by the unrecognized and uncorrected oxygen insufficiency, plaintiff was severely and irreversibly brain damaged. Due to extensive brain damage caused by the oxygen deprivation, plaintiff was only able to remain alive through artificial means, and four days later, she died when her family agreed to discontinue life support.