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Thompson v. Mathahs, Upland Outpatient Surgical Center, Inc., et al.

Dr. Fagel and his associates obtained a verdict of $12.3 million on behalf of a 28-year-old woman who now suffers severe brain damage after having Lidocaine induced seizures following elective breast augmentation surgery. During surgery, the surgeon administered Lidocaine as a local anesthetic in addition to general anesthesia. There were no problems during the surgery and the plaintiff was then moved to the recovery room. The recovery nurse then observed that the patient was twitching and non-responsive, and the surgeon asked a cardiologist to examine the patient. The cardiologist claims he told the surgeon and certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), defendant Mathahs, to intubate the plaintiff and transfer her to a hospital, but both deny that these recommendations were made. A neurologist was then called and, upon his arrival, the plaintiff had a grand mal seizure and then arrested. The paramedics were called and the plaintiff was resuscitated after 10 minutes of being administered multiple medications and electric counter-shocks. She was then transferred to a community hospital and diagnosed with severe hypoxic encephalopathy (brain damage from lack of blood or oxygen flow to the brain). She was later transferred to a skilled nursing facility, where her condition continued to decline with pneumonia, decubitus skin ulcers and pyelonephritis.

The plaintiff has since been transferred to a private specialized neurocare facility and her medical condition has improved and stabilized. However, due to her severe brain injuries, she remains at a Rancho Level III (minimally responsive) condition and requires 24 hour care. Defendant Mathahs contended that he could not independently diagnose and treat the plaintiff’s seizures without the direction of the surgeon because he did not understand what was happening to the patient. The other nurses also argued that they did not observe anything that required them to override the physician and call 911 because the plaintiff’s vital signs originally appeared normal.

However, Fagel attorneys were able to prove that the Surgical Center Staff’s negligent care of the plaintiff directly led to injuries. Regardless of his excuses, the defendant CRNA failed to recognize and treat the plaintiff’s Lidocaine induced seizures, which required intubation, medication and hyperventilation. Furthermore, the nurses failed to recognize that the patient’s heart rate and respirations were increasing, and also failed to intervene on the patient’s behalf and override the surgeon by calling 911. 

With the representation of the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates, the plaintiff was able to recover approximately $10.7 million for past and future medical costs, $800,000 for future loss of earnings, $500,000 for husband’s loss of consortium and $250,000 for general damages.

To watch the Channel 4 news clip regarding the unfortunate incident and featuring Dr. Bruce Fagel, please click here