Man suffers cardiac arrest, brain injury during colonoscopy

The decedent underwent a routine colonoscopy on Feb. 6, 2018.  At 54 years old, he had no significant past medical history. The plan for the procedure was that he would receive propofol for sedation and be monitored by anesthesia while the sedation was administered.

After being given the propofol, the decedent’s oxygen saturation was 100 percent. His blood pressure and heart rate were recorded for the first five minutes of the colonoscopy and were normal. The defendant anesthesiologist never recorded another blood pressure or heart rate again.  

The colonoscopy lasted 21 minutes. When it was finished, the decedent was found to be unresponsive, blue and without a heart rate. The defendant and the gastroenterologist who performed the colonoscopy began giving him oxygen and doing chest compressions.  EMS was called and took over the resuscitation when they arrived. 

The decedent was rushed to a nearby hospital where his heart started again, but he was unresponsive in a coma. 

It was determined that the decedent had suffered a cardiac arrest resulting in a massive brain injury from lack of oxygen. His cardiac arrest occurred during the time that the defendant anesthesiologist was supposed to be monitoring his vital signs.

The decedent was kept on life support by his family in the hopes of recovery, but support was withdrawn after two months and he passed away.

The plaintiff retained an expert witness who was of the opinion that the defendant anesthesiologist could not have been monitoring the decedent at all during the colonoscopy; had he been, he would have recognized the cardiac arrest when it occurred. If properly monitored, the colonoscopy would have been stopped, and resuscitation efforts would have started sooner and prevented his massive brain injury.

The case settled for the defendant’s insurance policy limits of $1 million prior to filing the lawsuit.

Action:
Injuries alleged: Massive brain injury
Case name: N/A (settled pre-suit)
Court/case no.: N/A 
Jury and/or judge: N/A 
Amount: $1 million
Date: July 2020
Attorney: Robert M. Higgins of Lubin & Meyer, Boston (for the plaintiff)

Good victory.  Med-Mal cases are very difficult.  Very tragic death that could have been avoided.

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