Earlier this year, a California anesthesiologist was disciplined by the Medical Board of California (“Board”) for gross negligence after a patient for whom he provided anesthesia services during a dental procedure died after her oxygen level fell, she had no pulse, and she was not properly resuscitated. The Board stated in its findings that the anesthesiologist’s care and treatment of the patient “constitute[ed] extreme departures from the standard of practice” by “failing to respond appropriately to a medical emergency, his delay in calling 911 and continuing his cell phone conversation, instead of addressing significant changes in P.K.’s status.”
The Dental Procedure
The 57-year-old patient, who had controlled hypertension but was otherwise healthy, had dental implant surgery during which she initially had oral sedation that subsequently involved IV sedation in order to complete the procedure. When the patient’s oxygen level fell to 85%, the anesthesiologist was unable to feel a pulse. He then attached an EKG monitor and attempted to resuscitate the patient but his efforts failed. He then unsuccessfully attempted a blind oral intubation to secure the patient’s airway, administered an injection of Epinephrine through the chest wall directly into the patient’s heart, and administered an injection of Epinephrine through the patient’s throat into her windpipe.
An emergency call was then placed to 911, after which the paramedics arrived and successfully intubated and resuscitated the patient. However, the paramedics accused the anesthesiologist with interfering with their efforts to provide care to the patient. The patient was transported to a local hospital where she was declared brain dead four days later.
The Anesthesiologist’s Gross Negligence
The Board investigated and found that the anesthesiologist failed to adequately monitor and manage the patient’s airway, failed to use a precordial stethoscope to monitor the patient’s ventilation, failed to use End Tidal Carbon Dioxide (ETCO2) Monitoring to assess both ventilation and perfusion, failed to employ EKG monitoring from the beginning of the administration of IV sedation, failed to recognize that the patient was pre-disposed to respiratory compromise, respiratory distress, and respiratory obstruction due to the synergistic effect of the drugs he administered to the patient, failed to realize that the IV sedation anesthesia had turned into a general anesthetic, failed to use a laryngoscope to intubate and secure the patient’s airway, failed to adequately document his care and treatment of the patient (namely, recordation of the patient’s history, physical examination, physical status, and anesthetic plan), and failed to identify late entries made to the medical records of the patient (the anesthesia records given to the paramedics are different from those placed in the records of the dental facility).
The Board imposed disciplinary action against the anesthesiologist, who had been licensed in California since 1975 and had never been subject to disciplinary proceedings in the past, that involved revocation of his license, which revocation was stayed by the Board, and the anesthesiologist was placed on three years of probation, subject to completing not less than 25 hours of continuing education courses per year during his probation, enrolling in a course of medical record keeping, enrolling in a professionalism program (ethics course), and having his practice monitored by an approved monitor during the period of his probation.
If you or a family member were injured during or as a result of anesthesia, you should promptly find a California medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your anesthesia medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice claim against an anesthesiologist, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in California or in your state who may assist you.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.