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Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against Hospital After High-Risk Patient Suffers Cardiac Arrest While Anesthetized for Routine Procedure


If you have ever had surgery or any other medical procedure that required anesthesia, your memories probably end before the hospital staff wheeled your stretcher into the operating room and begin again in the recovery room.  While you were under anesthesia though, doctors and nurses were keeping careful watch over your heart rate and breathing in order to keep the medication doses and other factors at just the right level to ensure that you stayed asleep until the procedure was finished but that all the organs of your body received enough oxygen.  Even a minor error by an anesthesiologist or the staff of a hospital operating room can have serious health consequences for a patient.  If you have been injured because of a medical error involving anesthesia, contact a South Carolina medical malpractice lawyer.

Did the Patient Die Because of a Medical Error During Anesthesia or Because of His Pre-Existing Conditions?

In October 2010, Charles underwent a colonoscopy at a hospital in Charleston.  He was 49 years old and suffered from many chronic conditions, including a genetic blood disorder, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, and a history of heart failure.  The healthcare providers who supervised his anesthesia during the procedure were a certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA) named Nurse Embrey and an anesthesiologist named Dr. Nelson.  During Charles’ procedure, Dr. Nelson was supervising Nurse Embrey and one other CRNA who was working with another patient.  The hospital’s policy was that an anesthesiologist can supervise up to four patients at one time (each patient has the full attention of their own CRNA), as long as the anesthesiologist is not more than a two-minute walk away from any patient.

While Charles was under anesthesia, his oxygen saturation levels dropped to dangerous levels, and Nurse Embrey called for help from Dr. Nelson.  She attempted to move him to open his airways, but it was difficult for her to reposition him by herself, and Charles suffered cardiac arrest for about a minute.  Dr. Nelson intubated and defibrillated Charles, and then doctors placed him in a medically induced coma, where he underwent mechanical ventilation and other interventions.  After 50 days of hospitalization, Charles was able to return home, but he did not restart his anticoagulant medications.  He died in January 2011.

Charles’ family sued the hospital for medical malpractice, and years of litigation ensued.  One of the points of contention was the testimony of a medical expert witness who reviewed Charles’ medical records.  The expert witness claimed that in 2003, the first time Charles had sought treatment at the hospital, his chances of dying within five years had been 50 percent.

Contact Us today for Help

A Columbia personal injury lawyer can help you if you suffered permanent injuries because of oxygen deprivation during anesthesia or other medical errors.  Contact The Stanley Law Group for help with your case.


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