Home E-Weekly April 3, 2018

Jury: Spine ASC Discharged Patient Too Soon

Published: April 3, 2018

Sharon Kimble TOO SOON? Sharon Kimble was discharged two hours after surgery; she was dead before morning.

L ast week a jury awarded $20 million to the surviving spouse and heirs of a woman who died soon after she was discharged — prematurely, according to her lawyer — to a nearby hotel 2 hours after undergoing spinal surgery.

Sharon Kimble, 50, had suffered from chronic back pain that she took opioids to treat when she saw an advertisement on television for Laser Spine Institute. Told she could be back on her feet after a quick procedure on her spine, Ms. Kimble underwent surgery at the facility located in the Chester County suburbs outside Philadelphia on Jan. 29, 2014.

At the surgery center, Ms. Kimble allegedly received 6 times more Dilaudid (hydromorphone) than was originally planned. Despite this, she was discharged 2 hours after the surgery to a nearby hotel.

"She should never have been discharged with that much narcotic in her system," her lawyer wrote in a trial memorandum.

Later that night her husband found her dead. The official cause of death: "adverse interaction of drugs." The liability lawsuit was filed against both Laser Spine Institute and the anesthesiologist, Glenn Rubenstein, MD.

A defense expert witness argued that the dosage of Dilaudid Ms. Kimble received was necessary because of a high tolerance developed over years of treating her back pain. The defense further argued that Ms. Kimble was appropriately discharged.

Ms. Kimble's lawyer, Lane R. Jubb, Jr., argued that she was pushed out of the facility too quickly so the space could be used for another procedure. "People should not be discharged to a Marriott 2 hours after spinal surgery," says Mr. Jubb.

In a statement, Laser Spine Institute said: "While we respect the judicial system and the service of its jurors, we must respectfully disagree with the Chester County Court's jury decision in returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the spouse of a Laser Spine Institute patient who passed away after leaving our care in stable condition. We plan to explore all of our options, including an appeal of the verdict."

Dr. Rubenstein did not respond to requests for comment.

Richard Abowitz

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