Patient is Killed by Negligent Nursing Team

Nursing Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Nevada and involves a male patient who died after undergoing a routine surgical procedure. Immediately following the surgery, which occurred without incident, the patient awoke and was relocated to the recovery room. While in the recovery room, the nursing staff allowed the decedent to consume a large fast food meal. While he was eating the meal, the decedent choked on the food, requiring emergency measures to be taken to prevent death / permanent injuries to his lungs. After these measures were taken and the patient stabilized, he was given a heavy dose of sedatives by the nursing staff. The nurse practitioner determined the patient did not need to be sedated, and he was given Narcan to counter the sedative. Upon waking, the patient was in significant pain, and his blood pressure began to drop. The next day the patient was moved off the ICU, and was occasionally checked. The following day the patient collapsed when being led to the bathroom, speculatively from a pulmonary embolism. The patient coded and passed away shortly thereafter.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you routinely treat patients like the one described in this case?
  • 2. Have you ever had a patient develop this outcome? Based on this brief summary of the case, do you believe this patient may have had a better outcome had the care rendered been different?
  • 3. Are you available to review this case on behalf of the plaintiff?

Expert Witness Response E-008674

Yes, I have frequently cared for VATS patients in PACU. Yes, I have cared for patients who have developed aspiration pneumonia. However, I have never had a patient in PACU that had been given solid food “immediately” after general anesthesia. You mention in your summary that “When the patient awoke, he was given three sedatives…” This fact leads me to wonder if the patient was intubated as Diprivan is rarely used outside the procedural setting; except on ventilator patients. The PACU Standards of Care do not appear to have been followed.

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