Anesthesiologist's Failure to Monitor Vital Signs During Procedure Results in Death and $2.45 Million Settlement 

Medical Malpractice Settlement Report, 2021
By Robert M. Higgins, Medical Malpractice Lawyer 

Anesthesiologist failed to properly monitor patient during endoscopy and failed to recognize she was not getting adequate oxygen while sedated, resulting in cardiac arrest.

On 2/6/20, the 46-year-old patient went to her gastroenterologist at an out-patient center for an elective upper endoscopy for complaints of GERD. Her pre-procedure vital signs were recorded as blood pressure 125/63, pulse 64, respiratory rate 16, and O2 saturation 99%. It was determined she would be deeply sedated so an anesthesiologist would be present to monitor her vital signs.

At 12:05 pm, anesthesia was started. At approximately 12:08 pm, the defendant recorded the decedent’s vitals as blood pressure 173/101, pulse 96, O2 saturation 98%, and CO2 2.8 

At approximately 12:09 pm, the defendant anesthesiologist recorded vital signs as blood pressure 200/95, pulse 1, CO2 21.9, and no O2 saturation value, and then blood pressure 147/75, pulse 115, CO2 32, and no O2 saturation value. 

Instead of aborting the procedure, the defendant gave her more anesthesia medication. The defendant noted that the intra-procedure EKG showed cardiac abnormalities but the procedure continued. 

At approximately 12:14 pm, the defendant anesthesiologist administered more anesthetic. No vital signs were taken at this point. 

At 12:17 pm, the vital signs recorded were a blood pressure 120/63, pulse 46, and no O2 saturation or CO2 values. 

 At 12:18 pm the procedure was finally stopped. The plaintiff’s decedent did not have a pulse and it was realized that she suffered cardiac arrest and CPR was begun. 911 was called and EMS arrived to transport her to a local hospital. 

Upon arrival to the hospital the plaintiff’s decedent was unconscious. She was determined to have suffered a lack of oxygen during the procedure which caused a cardiac arrest and subsequent severe brain injury from lack of oxygen. 

She was kept alive on life-support for 3 days when the decision was made to withdraw support and she passed away. 

The plaintiff retained an expert who opined that the defendant anesthesiologist failed to properly monitor the decedent during the procedure and failed to realize she was not getting adequate oxygen while sedated. This failure caused her to suffer a cardiac arrest and lack of oxygen to her brain. 

This wrongful death claim was resolved against the anesthesiologist prior to filing suit for all her insurance coverage of $2,425,000.

The case against the gastroenterologist and staff at the out-patient center remains in litigation.

Attorneys for the plaintiff: Andrew C. Meyer Jr. and Robert M. Higgins.

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