My spouse had an elective outpatient surgery and died in the operating room. What can I do about it under Texas law?


Painter Law Firm's frequently asked question (FAQ) series

December 19, 2018

Outpatient surgeries are done every day in Texas hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. Even though surgeons often describe these procedures as “minor,” there is still a risk to patients because of general anesthesia issues.

The powerful anesthetic medications administered to patients during surgery alter breathing, respiratory, and heart functions. When something goes wrong, it’s critical to take immediate action to prevent the patient from developing a permanent brain injury or even passing away.

From my experience in handling anesthesia-related cases, when there is a bad outcome, the anesthesiologist usually isn’t in the room when things start going wrong.

Many people don’t realize—and hospitals and surgery centers certainly don’t advertise—that the healthcare provider managing anesthesia during surgery is often a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), not a physician. An anesthesiologist physician is typically on-site, medically directing or supervising multiple procedures at once, while the hands-on anesthesia care is being provided by a CRNA.

If something goes wrong in one of the multiple operating rooms, there is frequently a frantic rush to get this anesthesiologist into the room to help manage the complication. In the meantime, the patient is losing precious seconds and minutes without an adequate oxygen supply.

The short answer to the question posed above is to hire an experienced Texas medical malpractice and wrongful death attorney immediately. These types of cases require significant investigation to determine what happened in the operating room that led to the patient death or complication, and careful work with an anesthesiologist medical expert witness.

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Robert Painter is an award-winning 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 all over Texas.

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.


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