MD’S CONDUCT LEADS TO GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION OF PATIENT’S DEATH

January 1, 2012

The Oregon Medical Board suspended a Northeast Portland doctor’s license a year ago, but she will soon face further complications. According to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, the doctor is the subject of a grand jury investigation into a surgery that resulted in a patient’s death.

The panel will decide if the doctor was criminally negligent or reckless when she performed an in-office surgical procedure on a patient without first conducting a full medical evaluation. Medical malpractice professionals maintain that it is the surgeon’s responsibility to understand both the patient’s case and the procedure before committing to surgery.

According to documents related to the doctor’s license suspension, the surgery took place late at night in her office. No one other than the doctor and the patient was present. The doctor administered anesthesia, after which the patient complained of chest pain and difficulty breathing. The patient had a seizure and lost consciousness.

The problems didn’t end there. The doctor (again, according to medical board documents) did not have a crash cart in the room. As a result, the doctor did not have quick access to a defibrillator and emergency drugs to treat a cardiac arrest.

Instead, she performed approximately 15 chest compressions. When the paramedics arrived, she was not working on the patient at all. The patient had no pulse, but the paramedics intubated and revived her before taking her to a nearby medical center. Four days later, doctors declared the patient dead.

According to the autopsy, the patient’s death was related to medication or anesthesia. There also may have been a brain injury, the report suggested, the result of oxygen deprivation.

It’s rare that a malpractice case goes to criminal court. Usually, the courts only see medical mistake cases when the victim’s family or estate files a wrongful death civil suit against the physician.

Source: OregonLive.com, “Multnomah County grand jury looks into patient death, Northeast Portland doctor,” Nick Budnick, Dec. 27, 2011

 

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