Patient Suffers Heart Attack During Colonoscopy: $1 Million Settlement

2020 Medical Malpractice Case Report
By Attorney Robert M. Higgins
Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Anesthesiologist’s failure to monitor vital signs during colonoscopy leads to death

The decedent underwent a routine colonoscopy on 2/6/18. He was 54 years old and had no significant past medical history. The plan for the procedure was that he would receive propofol for sedation and be monitored by anesthesia while the sedation was administered.

After being given the propofol, the decedent’s oxygen saturation was 100%. His blood pressure and heart rate were recorded for the first 5 minutes of the colonoscopy and they were normal. The defendant anesthesiologist never recorded another blood pressure or heart rate again. The colonoscopy lasted 21 minutes. When it was finished, the decedent was found to be unresponsive, blue and without a heart rate. The defendant and the gastroenterologist who performed the colonoscopy began giving him oxygen and doing chest compressions. EMS was called and took over the resuscitation when they arrived.

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The decedent was rushed to a nearby hospital where they were able to get his heart started again but he was unresponsive in a coma. It was determined that the decedent had suffered a cardiac arrest resulting in him suffering massive brain injury from lack of oxygen. His cardiac arrest occurred during the time that the defendant anesthesiologist was supposed to be monitoring his vital signs.

The decedent was kept on life support by his family in the hopes of recovery but support was withdrawn after 2 months and he passed away.

The plaintiff retained an expert witness who was of the opinion that the defendant anesthesiologist could not have been monitoring the decedent at all during the colonoscopy or he would have recognized his cardiac arrest when it occurred. If properly monitored, the colonoscopy would have been stopped and resuscitation efforts would have started sooner and prevented his massive brain injury.

The case settled for the defendant’s insurance policy limits of $1,000,000 prior to filing the lawsuit.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this anesthesia death lawsuit.

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