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Settlement reached in hospital negligence lawsuit

Doctors and patients alike consider cataract surgery to be a routine procedure that is very commonly performed on older patients. Most Phoenix residents are aware that every medical intervention comes with some degree of risk. When something bad happens because of alleged medical or hospital negligence, it's a different story altogether.

Hospital neglect is the basis for a lawsuit filed on a widower's behalf. His wife died in 2010. Although this tragedy took place in another state, the alleged circumstances could have happened in Arizona or any medical facility. The 68-year-old's sedation for a cataract operation was allegedly complicated by a lack of monitoring by hospital staff. Court documents show she was prepared for surgery, and a type of anesthesia was administered by intravenous infusion.

The suit claims that a failure to monitor the patient caused her fatal brain injury. The plaintiff cites that the defendants left her unattended after sedation and were otherwise negligent by not providing continuous care. It is alleged that during this time, her vital signs were not observed. Her breathing was slowing, and without appropriate monitoring, it was unnoticed that she was in respiratory and cardiac arrest. According to court records, the then unresponsive patient was suffering from anoxic brain trauma. Efforts to resuscitate at a nearby hospital failed. Death occurred six days later.

The attending physicians at the surgical center each argued the monitoring was the responsibility of the other. Reports are that negotiations subsequent to filing the complaint led to an agreed upon settlement of $2.1 million.

Situations where patient injury or death occurs because of avoidable causes are tragic. Those who are left behind deserve compensation for their loss when negligence or deliberate actions on the part of those responsible can be proven or responsibility is accepted.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Fatal Cataract Sedation Results in $2.1M Settlement" David Bernard, Jan. 24, 2014

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