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Fatal Cataract Sedation Results in $2.1M Settlement

Patient "inexplicably left alone" and unmonitored before surgery.

Published: January 24, 2014

The estate of a cataract patient whose routine sedation was fatally complicated by negligent monitoring has agreed to a $2.1 million settlement, according to Jury Verdict Review Publications.

Marie Golubski, then 68, was scheduled to undergo cataract surgery on her right eye at the Pittsburgh-area Associates Surgery Center in June 2010. She was prepped and intravenously sedated before being "inexplicably left alone."

During this time her breathing slowed significantly and the medical staff, having neglected to monitor her vital signs, failed to notice that she had fallen into respiratory and cardiac arrest. Twenty-three minutes after the IV sedation had been administered, she was discovered unresponsive and suffering anoxic brain injury, according to court records. She was transferred to a nearby hospital for resuscitative efforts, but died 6 days later.

Ms. Golubski's husband filed suit, citing negligence in failing to monitor her, failing to provide continuous care and leaving her unattended after sedation. The defendants denied negligence. According to a case summary, ophthalmic surgeon Daniel Zimmer, MD, and anesthesia provider Brian Cross, CRNA, each argued that monitoring was the other's responsibility.

In the August 2013 settlement, however, Dr. Zimmer, Mr. Cross, the surgery center and Dr. Zimmer's practice settled the case for a total of $2,125,000 in damages.

Attorneys for Ms. Golubski's estate and the defendants did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

David Bernard

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