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Anesthesiologist Held Liable For Patient’s Death During Surgery

From routine procedures to emergency treatments, any surgery can turn dangerous if everyone in the operating room is not on the same page or giving the patient their full attention. As our Santa Rosa readers know, it’s this inattentiveness that often leads to medical mistakes. And tragically, these mistakes can have deadly consequences.

Residents here in California can see this playing out in a Texas case where a family is suing a local hospital and two of its doctors because of the death of their loved one. Set to go before a county judge in September, the lawsuit accuses the hospital and its two staff members of failing to monitor the patient. Suspecting that negligence was a factor, the family is seeking damages that will not only hold the hospital and its staff members accountable for the mistake but may prevent future accidents from happening again in the future.

For those who may not have heard about the case, the mistake is said to have happened in April 2011 during a routine heart surgery. According to the surgeon, after about ten hours into the surgery his attending anesthesiologist noticed that the 61-year-old patient had turned blue and that her blood-oxygen levels were dangerously low. Not long after this, the patient died.

In a recent deposition, the surgeon explained that the anesthesiologist had not given any indication that the patient was in distress prior to noticing that she had turned blue. The surgeon hinted that this may have been because the anesthesiologist was distracted by an electronic device he periodically had been looking at during the surgery. The anesthesiologist, who confirmed much of what the surgeon said, is now accused of “distracted doctoring.”

The coined phrase of “distracted doctoring” suggests that the medical staff member was not paying full attention to his patient, which led to the medical mistake. And much like distracted driving, the victim’s family is viewing this as a form of negligence that should not have happened.

Source: The Dallas Observer, “Dallas Anesthesiologist Being Sued Over Deadly Surgery Admits to Texting, Reading iPad During Procedures,” Eric Nicholson, April 1, 2014