They were distraught.
They were upset.
They didn't know what to do.
They were angry.
They were mad.
Their son was dying in front of them.
In the hospital.
In the intensive care unit.
Hooked up to tubes.
Hooked up to monitoring equipment that beeped incessantly.
Hooked up to a machine that was breathing for him.
He was a young man.
A young man who just had surgery.
A young man who was supposed to be sent home shortly after his surgery.
A 'routine surgery' is how the surgeon described it.
It was for a hernia.
A hernia repair.
"You'll be in and out the same day," the surgeon said.
This was not an emergency.
It was an elective surgical procedure.
A surgery that could have waited.
But the surgeon convinced this young man to have the surgery now rather than wait.
The young man agreed.
He followed the pre-operative instructions.
He did what the surgeon told him to do.
He arrived on time.
His surgery went well.
There were no complications...
Except for one.
One that this young man had no control over.
He was asleep when it happened.
He was under anesthesia when it happened.
It was the anesthesiologist who triggered the events that led to this young man's untimely death.
You see, the anesthesiologist over anesthetized this young man.
He gave him too much anesthesia during this routine hernia surgery.
Way too much.
Too much for him to handle.
At the end of the surgery, the anesthesiologist gives the patient certain medications to reverse the anesthesia affects.
That wakes the patient and allows them to wake up comfortably in the recovery room.
Except when the anesthesiologist tried to wake the patient not, the patient was overly groggy.
He was overly sleepy.
He was not really responsive to the anesthesiologist's commands.
There was no way they could send him home in this condition.
The anesthesiologist decided it would be better to admit him to the hospital overnight to be able to watch him.
That sounds like a rational and reasonable decision.
the anesthesiologist made a rational judgment call that was appropriate at that moment.
A number of problems snowballed from here.
The first is that this anesthesiologist gave the patient two much anesthetic medication for the surgery.
For his weight, the patient should have received a lower dosage.
That was the first violation from good and accepted medical practice.
Had the anesthesiologist not overmedicated the patient, this young man would still be alive today.
When they admitted the patient to the hospital, they put him on a regular medical floor.
This was an “unmonitored” medical floor.
That meant that there was no telemetry that allow the patient to be attached to various monitoring devices that would send information to a central nursing station for continuous monitoring.
Instead, this regular medical floor simply had nurses and nursing assistants would come around to see their patients approximately every 4-5 hours. This floor was design for medically stable patients who did not require continuous electronic monitoring.
Once the patient was tucked into bed, nobody checked on him for hours and hours.
By the time one of the nurses made her rounds to check in on the station, it was the middle of the night.
What she found was a patient who was not breathing.
What she found was a patient who was unresponsive.
His heart had stopped.
He was in cardiac arrest.
He was blue.
The nurse called an emergency code.
Doctors came running.
The code team came running.
Nurses came running in.
They started to resuccitate him.
They were breathing for him.
They were pumping his chest.
They were injecting medications into his body.
He wasn't responding.
For a long time.
Then finally...a heart beat.
They revived his heart.
After more than 30 minutes working on him.
They intubated him.
So a machine could breathe for him.
But there was a problem...
He was found in cardiac arrest.
He was found not breathing.
The medical experts teach us that a human being will suffer brain damage if he does not get oxygen for four minutes or more.
He was unconscious.
He did not wake up.
Tests performed over the next few days revealed this young man had suffered profound brain damage.
Permanent brain damage.
His body began to experience decortical posturing.
His arms and legs began to lock up and stay in a certain posture.
That was a sign that his body had suffered irreversible and permanent brain injury.
He was unresponsive to painful stimulii.
He did not respond when the doctors flicked his eyes.
He did not respond when the doctors stuck him with a needle.
He did not respond to voices or yelling.
These were all bad signs.
Signs that this young man would never be a vibrant young man again.
Signs that this young man would never get married.
Signs that this young man would never ride a bicycle again or play basketball.
The doctors did not have much hope.
They told his parents he would likely die.
In a day or two or three.
They were angry.
They wanted answers.
The anesthesiologist never told the parents he overmedicated their son.
Instead, he simply told them that their son had a cardiac arrest while in the hospital.
The doctors told his parents that if they turned off the breathing machine, he would die.
This would be his life.
He had no brain activity.
He would never awake.
He'd never recognize his parents again.
His pupils were dilated.
His parents called me.
They asked for my help.
They asked me to come to the hospital and sit with them.
They wanted me to see their son.
They wanted me to see what happened to him.
They wanted to tell me what they were going through.
They wanted to preserve the image of their son.
They asked me to bring a camera.
To the hospital.
Not a cell phone camera.
A real camera.
I said "Ok."
When I arrived, I saw this young man.
In the ICU.
Lying in a bed.
He was gone.
His parents knew it.
The doctors knew it.
The nursing staff knew it.
He was being mechanically ventilated.
He was being monitored by the finest machines on the planet.
It monitored his blood pressure.
It monitored his brain activity.
It monitored his pulse and respirations.
It monitored the pressure within his heart.
You name it, he was attached to it and it was being monitored.
Not a lot of good that did though.
His life was over.
I could see it.
His parents could see it.
The doctors could see it.
His parents asked me to please take pictures of their son.
I started taking photographs.
With my Canon dSLR camera.
With a flash.
After about five pictures, a nurse attending to this patient saw me.
She instantly turned from nice, polite and pleasant into an obnoxious pit bull.
"YOU CAN'T TAKE PICTURES IN HERE!"
"HOW DARE YOU TAKE PHOTOS OF THIS PATIENT!"
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING TAKING PICTURES IN THE ICU, YOU CAN'T DO THAT!"
She screamed at me.
The young man's parents were standing beside me.
She didn't care.
She kept screaming.
I tried to ignore her.
I continued to take photos.
Her screaming continued.
Calmly, I said to her "Do you see this young man, dying here?"
"These are his parents. They asked me to come here. They asked me to take photos of their dying son. Do you have a problem with their request?"
She continued to argue.
She wanted hospital administration to come up and speak to us.
I again told her she could get whomever she wanted to come speak to us, but as their attorney, I had every right to be in the ICU with them and take photographs of their son.
He died just a few days later.
To learn more about what happened here, I invite you to watch the video below...