Wrongful Death Lawsuit Brings $2.45 Million

2010 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Failure to properly monitor during surgery lead to anoxic brain injury of 8-month old girl

The decedent was an eight-month old girl who was born with craniosynostosis—a condition where her facial sutures prematurely fused together. The surgeons who evaluated her felt that she should have surgery to repair the condition so that her head would growly normally as she got older.

On 1/27/04, the surgery was performed. The 2 defendants in the lawsuit were the attending and resident anesthesiologist during the surgery. Natalie was taken to the operating room at approximately 7:30 a.m. According to the surgeons, the surgery proceeded without significant complications until the end of the operation. At the conclusion of the surgery, at approximately 1:00 p.m., as the decedent was turned over, it was discovered that she had only put out 7 cc’s of blood-tinged urine throughout the entire 5 ½ hour surgery. Almost immediately, her blood pressure dropped and her heart rate slowed to as low as 35 beats per minute. At that time her oxygen saturation was only 86%.

By 1:32 p.m. it was noted that the decedent was pulseless, a code was called and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated. The decedent was resuscitated and was transferred to the intensive care unit where she was noted to have limited response to painful stimuli. A head MRI on 1/29/04 showed diffuse global acute ischemic changes involving the right and left cerebellar and cerebral hemispheres and thalami, consistent with a hypoperfusion injury. Clinically the decedent remained unresponsive and showed signs of lower brainstem activity only. Because of her dismal prognosis, she was taken off life support on 2/2/04, and died within hours. An autopsy was performed and confirmed recent changes throughout her brain due to lack of oxygen.

During the course of discovery it was learned that the attending anesthesiologist had left the operating room on several occasions during the surgery and the only person monitoring the decedent was the resident physician. The plaintiffs expected to present evidence that the defendant anesthesiologists failed to provide adequate oxygen to the decedent throughout the surgery. The plaintiffs’ experts opined that her condition at the conclusion of the surgery and the lack of urine output was direct evidence that she did not receive proper oxygenation throughout the surgery. The plaintiffs’ experts were expected to testify that there was no other possible reason for the decedent’s condition at the end of the surgery. The defendants were expected to present expert medical testimony that the decedent had suffered an air embolus during the surgery.

The case went to mediation two months prior to trial and settled for $2,450,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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