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Anesthesia Complication Lawsuit Settled for $851k

Patient argued that her sickle-cell disease plus inappropriate sedation caused adverse outcome.

Published: March 2, 2012

A South Carolina woman who underwent minor surgery and wound up suffering cognitive disabilities, allegedly as a result of anesthesia, has settled her lawsuit against a physician, CRNA and surgical facility for $851,000.

Sheriece Coltrain, 20, underwent surgery to remove abnormal cells from her cervix. While this type of procedure is often performed in office-based facilities, Ms. Coltrain's OB-GYN surgeon (unnamed in court records due to the terms of the settlement) opted to schedule it at an ASC (also unnamed).

The CRNA providing anesthesia for the case (also unnamed) intravenously administered deep sedation. Toward the procedure's end, Ms. Coltrain suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest, which resulted in anoxic brain injury. This impacted her ability to work or develop relationships, according to court records.

In her negligence lawsuit, Ms. Coltrain, who suffers from sickle-cell disease, faulted the physician for not recognizing the severity of her condition in planning the procedure. She and her attorneys argued that the CRNA administered an unnecessarily excessive level of anesthesia without ever offering a local anesthetic option, and breached the ASC's policies by performing monitored anesthesia care without an anesthesiologist's supervision. Attorney David Yarborough, who represented Ms. Coltrain, said it could not be determined which defendant initiated the decision to administer deep sedation.

The defendants pointed out that Ms. Coltrain hadn't disclosed to them that she'd taken pain medication on the morning of surgery. They maintained that they'd complied with the proper standards of care, and argued that her post-surgical cognitive deficits were pre-existing, citing her diagnosed ADHD and history of problems in school.

A mediated settlement was reached in October 2011. Attorneys for the defendants could not be located.

David Bernard


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