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Even the most stoic patient can find the prospect of having to undergo a procedure in which they are put under using general anesthesia somewhat unnerving. After all, anesthesia errors by medical professionals can have horrific consequences ranging from liver poisoning and brain damage to coma and even death.
To illustrate just how harmful this type of medical negligence can be, consider the case of a 19-year-old girl who is currently in what her attorney describes as a “vegetative state” due to an anesthesia mishap during an otherwise routine medical procedure.
On January 10, the 19-year-old girl was taken to a hospital in Westchester County, New York, to undergo an endoscopy after previously complaining of stomach discomfort. For those unfamiliar with an endoscopy, it is essentially a procedure in which a camera attached to a flexible scope is inserted into the patient, allowing physicians to look inside without having to make any type of incision.
Unfortunately, something went terribly wrong during the course of the endoscopy, and the girl went into both cardiac and respiratory arrest. While doctors were able the save her life, she still suffered significant brain damage and has since been in a coma.
The girl’s parents, both of whom are understandably devastated by this turn of events, filed a lawsuit against the hospital, and both the gastroenterologist and anesthesiologist who performed the procedure earlier this month. The complaint accuses the attending physicians of multiple failures, including failing to monitor the girl’s condition/vital signs, failing to learn of her medical history, and failing to administer the proper amount of anesthesia.
“The filing of this lawsuit begins the process in which a jury will ultimately decide who is responsible for this tragedy, a parent’s worst nightmare, and the damages that are appropriate to care for this once-vibrant young woman for the rest of her life,” said the family’s attorney.
It remains to be seen whether the girl, a college freshman, will ever regain consciousness and, if so, the extent of the neurological damage she has undoubtedly suffered. Regardless, it’s truly shocking to think that physicians could possibly make such a catastrophic and inexcusable error during such a routine procedure.
Source: The Journal News, “Hospital, 2 doctors sued over student’s vegetative state,” Erik Shilling, May 2, 2013