ASC Found Negligent, Must Pay $2.25M for Eye Surgery Patient's Brain Injury
Plaintiff argued surgery center failed to properly monitor sedated patient.
Published: June 24, 2011
A Los Angeles-area ambulatory surgery center has been ordered to pay $2.25 million in damages to an eye surgery patient who suffered an anoxic brain injury during a lens implantation procedure.
Roland Tseng, a man in his mid-50s who suffers from diabetes and a serious, pre-existing kidney disease, was given versed, fentanyl and propofol for sedation during what was supposed to be a routine, 10- to 15-minute ophthalmic procedure at Mazzocco Ambulatory Surgery Center in Van Nuys, according to malpractice attorney Robert Mandell, who represented the patient in his suit against the ASC and the anesthesiologist.
Mr. Tseng had a reaction to the anesthesia that caused him to go into a deeper state of sedation than intended, says Mr. Mandell. He argued in court that the anesthesiologist left the room, leaving the patient under the care of nurses not trained specifically in anesthesia, although the anesthesiologist denied that claim. At some point during the procedure, Mr. Tseng stopped breathing, and this complication went undetected long enough for him to suffer cerebral hypoxia. Due to his severe brain injury, Mr. Tseng must reside in a nursing facility.
The anesthesiologist settled, leaving the ASC the lone defendant in the trial. Mr. Mandell argued that the facility "knew about and permitted this particular anesthesiolgist's tendency to leave patients under anesthesia unattended with nurses who are not trained or licensed to handle or treat sedated patients," according to a press release from the law firm.
Mr. Mandell adds that while it's rare for a patient to slip into a deeper state of anesthesia than intended, it's a known risk that could have been detected with proper monitoring. Specifically, he claims that end-tidal CO2 monitoring, which wasn't used in the case, could have detected that Mr. Tseng had stopped breathing. The ASC countered that "everything surrounding the surgical procedure was done correctly," according to Mr. Mandell's firm.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury found the ASC negligent and awarded Mr. Tseng $2.25 million in damages. "It's a tragic situation no matter how you slice it," says Mr. Mandell, who adds that he doesn't want to "vilify" the ASC.
Calls to the surgery center for comment were not immediately returned.
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