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Case #1073: Anesthesia Errors


On March 11, the Plaintiff’s Decedent presented to the Defendant Hospital’s emergency department with abdominal pain and distention. She was subsequently determined to have a small bowel obstruction. Accordingly, she was admitted under the care of the Defendant surgeons.

The Defendant surgeon ordered a small bowel series with barium. The Plaintiff alleged that this study was contraindicated because there was already enough clinical information to make the diagnosis of small bowel obstruction. Performing the study in the face of obstruction merely increased the risk of aspiration into the lungs.

Subsequently, the Co-Defendant surgeon took the Plaintiff to surgery to relieve the small bowel obstruction. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant anesthesiologist and the Defendant surgeon violated the standards of care by their failure to perform any decompression of the Plaintiff’s bowel with NG tube prior to attempting surgical intervention. The Plaintiff alleged that with the bowel obstruction and abdominal distension, reflux of gastric contents, including barium, was predictable if the bowel was not decompressed prior to intubation. The Plaintiff further alleged that the Defendant anesthesiologist negligently failed to use cricoid pressure during induction anesthesia so as to prevent aspiration.

The Plaintiff aspirated a significant amount of gastric content and barium, severely damaging her lungs and compromising her respiratory function. The Plaintiff required a prolonged hospital confinement in the ICU due to ARDS. The jury found in favor of the Plaintiff, against the Defendant anesthesiologist only.

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