Montgomery County (Md) Circuit Court—A 28-year-old-woman presented to a clinic to undergo an abortion, which was performed successfully under general anesthesia. In the recovery room, the nurses had difficulty waking the patient, so the anesthesiologist prescribed medication to hasten her recovery. The nurses, however, discovered the patient was suffering a hypoxic event due to an obstructed airway. They attempted to oxygenate the patient using a pediatric-sized resuscitation bag but did not try to intubate her. The patient died 12 hours later due to irreversible brain damage.
In suing, the patient’s family claimed that the clinic failed to properly monitor the woman because it did not have a pulse oximeter machine nor enough Dyna-Map machines to monitor her blood pressure. Further, there were no adult resuscitation bags, and the nurses failed to use an EKG machine when trying to resuscitate her. In defense, the anesthesiologist said the nurses did not alert her to any problems, but the clinic nurses said the physician was aware of the patient’s problem but failed to check her condition.
In a settlement agreement, the plaintiffs received $1.3 million.
The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.