On April 24, 2017, the decedent was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a friend that was traveling on an interstate roadway. The driver lost control of the vehicle which caused the vehicle to leave the roadway and crash into a ditch. As a result of the crash, the decedent sustained several cervical bone fractures.
The decedent was transported from the scene to a hospital where he underwent posterior cervical surgery that included the installation of hardware to repair the cervical fractures.
At the conclusion of the surgery, as the decedent was being extubated from the anesthesia equipment, the decedent began to flail and he reached toward his endotracheal tube (ET tube) as if he intended to pull out the ET tube out of his throat. Fearing that the decedent would injure himself if he removed the ET tube, one of the anesthesia providers pulled the ET tube from the decedent’s throat. Within approximately a minute thereafter, the decedent’s heart stopped beating and he did not have a pulse. An emergency code was called and the anesthesia team performed CPR, including chest compressions and bagged mask ventilation, for approximately 8 minutes, at which time the decedent’s pulse returned. Although the decedent’s pulse was restored, his vital signs had plummeted during the code which indicated that the decedent was not well ventilated or oxygenated while he received CPR. Due to the mismanaged extubation, the decedent sustained a hypoxic brain injury that required him to be placed on life support. The decedent never regained consciousness and he died approximately a week after the surgery when he was removed from life support.
Plaintiff’s counsel made wrongful death claims against the automobile driver and against the anesthesiology team who attended the decedent during his cervical surgery. The automobile claim settled before suit was filed for the combined liability and UIM limits of $100,000.00. The medical malpractice claim settled at mediation, after suit was filed, for $1.9 million. The applicable medical malpractice cap was $2.25 million. Thus, the combined settlement was $2.0 million for the decedent’s wrongful death.