Lawsuit claims medical malpractice caused woman’s death

Whenever a violent storms hits, Maryland residents might wonder if they will lose power. In a circumstance such as this, people are generally fairly understanding when electricity is lost. However, people might be less understanding if the outage came in the middle of an invasive medical procedure, and as a result of the facility’s failure to maintain its building. Recently, a medical malpractice lawsuit claims that a woman died as a result of a power failure that occurred in the middle of her heart surgery.

Surgeons had been working on the 62-year-old woman for about an hour in August 2011 when the power unexpectedly went out. Officials for the hospital now claim that the entire hospital didn’t lose power; the hospital experienced an interruption that only affected one breaker. As a result, backup generators did not engage. For about 10 minutes, hospital personnel were unable to proceed with the surgery or close the woman’s chest.

Once power was finally restored at the University of New Mexico Hospital, the surgical team opted not to continue the surgery, as they were not confident that there would not be another loss of power. Unfortunately, the woman died four days later. A representative for the family claims that the hospital was medically negligent for its failure to properly maintain its electrical systems, which, the representative claims, is a breach of the accepted standard of care.

While the hospital disputes the medical malpractice claims against it, the woman has left behind a husband and two mentally incapacitated children who may have been dependent upon her care. A lawsuit such as this one could help with the financial implications of her death. Patients in Maryland, or their relatives in the event that such medical negligence led to a fatality, also have the right to legal recourse. If they can prove their claims, the court could choose to award them with monetary damages caused by the malpractice.

Source: Albuquerque Journal, “Power failed during open heart surgery at UNMH”, Colleen Heild, July 27, 2014

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