Family files claim of gross negligence against doctor

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Feb 28, 2012 in Doctor Errors

Any type of medical or surgical procedure is serious. Sometimes procedures that are considered routine or low risk are not monitored by doctors and medical staff as closely as they should be which may result in unforeseen complications or even death. In West Virginia, these types of procedures are often performed at out-patient facilities or treatment centers that do not have the capacity to treat life-threatening complications.

A recent case involving medical negligence occurred when an anesthesiologist, who worked at a surgery center that specializes in weight loss procedures, failed to monitor a 52-year old patient who was in his care. The patient, who was having difficulty breathing, had just undergone a Lap-Band procedure. In an attempt to aid her breathing, the doctor reinserted a "mask airway". The patient continued to have difficulty breathing and was eventually suctioned by staff and given medication to aid her breathing.

Despite continuing problems stabilizing the patient's oxygen levels, within three hours of surgery, the doctor left the patient in the care of a nurse. While under the supervision of the nurse, the patient continued to struggle to breath and the nurse called the doctor who returned to the facility 85 minutes after he left. Twenty minutes later, the patient stopped breathing, at which time she was taken by paramedics to a nearby hospital where she subsequently died.

The medical board of the state in which the doctor resides determined he should not have left the struggling patient in the care of a nurse. They also determined he failed to transfer the patient to a hospital in a timely manner.

The woman's family has brought charges of gross negligence against both the doctor and the surgical center where the procedure took place.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Doctor accused of gross negligence in death of Lap-Band patient," Stuart Pfeifer, Feb. 4, 2012

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