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$2.0 Million Settlement in Medical Negligence Action Against Hospital PACU Nurses Driver For Negligent Monitoring

The patient, an attorney, had an operation for the resection of a tongue cancer. While being awakened from anesthesia he developed a post operative bleeding complication which required a tracheostomy. As a result, the Plaintiff was sedated, intubated and transferred to the PACU for post operative anesthesia monitoring with instructions to carefully awaken the patient out of sedation. The PACU nurses attempted to awaken the patient by reducing the rate of anesthesia. However, nursing reduced the anesthesia too quickly resulting in the patient coming out of sedation abruptly and in an agitated state. Nursing failed to timely respond to this event by quickly increasing the sedation and notifying the anesthesiologist. As a result, the agitation worsened resulting in the patient dislodging his tracheostomy. This resulted in a cardiac arrest and many complications including a hypoxia to the brain. The Plaintiff alleged that the event ultimately caused a moderate brain injury resulting in depression and cognitive impairments. The Plaintiff filed suit against the Hospital for nursing negligence. The Hospital denied the PACU nurses were negligent. The Hospital argued that the nurses had met the standard of care in attempting to awaken the patient and that when he became agitated all proper measures were implemented in timely fashion. The patient’s hypoxic event was unavoidable. The Hospital further argued that the patient had recovered from his hypoxic event and any remaining psychological problems were driven more by depression than brain damage. The case settled for $2.0 million shortly before trial.