Painter Law Firm files medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against Kirby Surgical Center, others
36-year-old teacher placed under general anesthesia with propofol, dies shortly after shoulder surgery
Painter Law Firm filed a lawsuit today on behalf of our client, a widow and wrongful death beneficiary, involving the care that her husband, Bobby Meeks, received at Kirby Surgical Center, leading to his death in March 2018.
Bobby, who was 36-years -old when he died, was a popular school teacher at Dekaney High School. He injured his left shoulder while breaking up a fight between two students and was referred to for an arthroscopy shoulder surgery at Kirby Surgical Center.
Bobby’s surgery proceeded on March 14, 2018. He was placed under general anesthesia for the procedure, using Propofol and a left interscalene brachial plexus nerve block, and intubated (a breathing tube was inserted down his throat). An anesthesiologist physician and a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) were involved with Bobby’s anesthesia care, but it appears that the CRNA was the one providing most of the direct anesthesia care in the operating room.
The surgery itself took about 40 minutes. At the end of the surgery, the CRNA extubated (removed the breathing tube) and Bobby became combative. Within two minutes, he was in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) with a low heart rate and a very low oxygen saturation of 64%. The staff emergently called for the anesthesiologist to come to the PACU.
The CRNA could not get a blood pressure reading and attempted a jaw thrust and neck extension to try to get Bobby breathing. The anesthesiologist and surgeon came into the room, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) began seven minutes after Bobby had been extubated.
It took another five minutes before anyone attempted to secure Bobby’s airway with a breathing tube, and he was not successfully intubated for six more minutes. According to the medical records, a full 18 minutes has passed from the time Bobby went into distress before his airway was secured.
A Kirby Surgical Center staff member called 911 and an ambulance arrived to transport Bobby to Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. When he arrived at the hospital, he was noted to be in pulseless electrical activity (PEA). Despite heroic efforts at the hospital to save his life, Bobby was declared dead less than an hour after he arrived at Houston Methodist Hospital.
As part of our thorough investigation of this medical malpractice case, Painter Law Firm hired a board- certified anesthesiologist to study the medical records, as an expert witness.
The medical expert found that the anesthesiologist, CRNA, and surgeon were negligent by failing to implement timely, appropriate resuscitation measures immediately when Bobby became combative and hypoxic (deprived of oxygen) when the breathing tube was removed at the end of surgery. The expert believes that the physicians and CRNA should have promptly started oxygenating and ventilating him, including re-intubation.
The anesthesiology expert also gave the opinion that the Kirby Surgical Center nursing staff did not promptly call 911 for help and did not advocate for appropriate resuscitation efforts. Under the Texas Board of Nursing rules, registered nurses have an independent duty to advocate for the care that their patients need. In addition, the medical expert believes that Kirby Surgical Center did not have the proper equipment and supplies necessary to respond to an emergency like this.
We are here to help
Over the past several years, surgical centers have sprung up all over the State of Texas. Many of them are physician-owned, to allow doctors to obtain additional revenue from facility fees that would normally be earned by hospitals. In my experience, some surgical facilities are not prepared to handle cardiac or respiratory emergencies as well as hospitals, in terms of equipment, supplies, and staffing. In these situations, delays in implementing proper resuscitation and treatment can lead to permanent injury or death.
When it comes to hiring a medical malpractice attorney, experience matters. We understand surgery centers and how to investigate their potential negligence. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by surgical, medical, or hospital malpractice, our experienced medical negligence attorneys can help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.
All consultations are free and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2017, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.
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Published in the July/August 2018 edition of "The Houston Lawyer" magazine