He was young man in his early 20s. His surgeon reassured him this would be a simple routine surgical procedure. It was not an emergency and did not need to be performed immediately. The surgeon told him everything would be fine.

The surgery went well. The problem was that the anesthesiologist could not wake the patient up sufficiently at the end of the procedure. Despite giving the patient medication to reverse the anesthesia affects, this still did not fully waken the patient.

As a precaution, the anesthesiologist decided to admit the patient to the hospital to stay overnight so he could be watched. Good idea, but badly executed.

The patient was admitted to a general medical floor without the ability to electronically monitor him. On that floor, the nurses would only check on the patient every four hours. Once the patient was brought up to his room and settled in, nobody checked on him for the next four hours. By this time, it was the middle of the night.

When he was finally checked, he was found to be blue, not breathing and in cardiac arrest. Resuscitative efforts started his heart again, but he remained in a coma for the next week and a half without regaining consciousness. All of his organs deteriorated since he no longer had any brain function.

His parents were faced with a horrible decision to pull the plug since he was merely being maintained on a respirator without any hope of any improvement.

Thorough investigation revealed that the patient had been in respiratory and cardiac arrest for a considerable period of time before he was found by the nurse in the middle of the night. Despite the fact that they were able to revive his heart, he'd suffered massive brain damage, known as hypoxic encephalopathy that was irreversible.

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Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer