Can negligent monitoring result in brain injury to a patient?

Taking one’s eyes away from a patient’s vital signs or leaving a patient unattended might result in missed cues or a delayed medical response. For example, if such inattention resulted in several minutes of oxygen deprivation to a patient, there may be a serious risk of brain injury or damage.

In addition, the professional level of care that medical staff provide to a patient must also account for an individual’s unique medical history and conditions. A history might indicate allergies to certain drugs or medications, or conditions that elevate the risk of otherwise routine procedures. In the case of elderly patients at a nursing home or assisted living facility, staff must be aware of each resident’s medications and conditions to avoid negligent missteps, such as medication interactions or inappropriate treatments. 

Unfortunately, a recent article illustrates potential breaches of these aspects of a medical professional's duty of care. The resulting tragedy occurred during a seemingly routine pre-surgical procedure: an endoscopy. The patient was preparing for a lap band surgery, and the endoscopy was to ensure that pictures of the woman’s digestive tract, stomach and upper intestines didn’t indicate any conditions that might pose problems. Her doctor had also ordered an EKG the week before, which revealed a heart condition that might require extra monitoring when the woman was given medications.

Sure enough, the woman stopped breathing when she was administered the anesthesia drug for her endoscopy, but the anesthesiologist had left the room and didn’t return until several minutes later. Tragically, the woman never woke up. 

It may seem like common sense, but it can be important for a medical professional to be present during a procedure. If you have been injured as a result of your doctor’s inattention, an attorney can help you fight for your rights and prepare a claim alleging negligence.

Source: Houston Press, “Going Under: What Can Happen if Your Anesthesiologist Leaves the Room During an Operation,” Dianna Wray, Oct. 13, 2015

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