Physician Heal Thyself

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Q: I told my wife not to go for plastic surgery, but she did: a face lift and the eyelids, septum, lower lip and chin.  The operation lasted about three hours.  An anesthesiologist stood to her right side.

On the morning following the procedure, a nurse was assisting my wife in walking to the bathroom.  She was dizzy and starting to faint.  The nurse helped her lie on the floor and connected her to a monitor.  The blood oxygen saturation level was bad.

The nurse started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  She also took a bag and mask, got an oxygen canister, attached the bag to the canister, put the mask on my wife’s mouth and began squeezing the bag.  The nurse felt resistance, which meant there was an obstruction in the airway.  She squeezed a second time.  Although the oxygen seemed to enter the passageway, the nurse realized she needed assistance.

Using her cell phone, the nurse called another nurse, the building doorman, the surgeon and the anesthesiologist.  No one ever told the nurse to put in a tube.  After EMS personnel arrived, they put in a tube, and performed life support treatment, but cardiac arrest ensued.  Three days after the surgery, in the hospital, my wife left this world.

Should I sue the anesthesiologist, too?

A: Absolutely.  The anesthesiologist owed to your wife a ‘postoperative’ duty.  He will claim that you are seeking to hold him vicariously liable for the negligence of the surgeon and nurse, even though he was only an independent contractor with no responsibility for hiring the nurse and no authority to control her.  That is not so.  The anesthesiologist’s liability is based on his own duty of care, owed directly to your wife, even if he delegated another to act on his behalf.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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