Type of Claim Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death — Nikki Harper, a 44-year-old housewife, had a hysterectomy in August. The hysterectomy went fine, but she kept throwing blood clots, not an uncommon occurrence. The blood clots were treated for several months with medication. She subsequently developed a large clot in her right lung. She elected to have it surgically removed because it was beginning to impact her ability to exercise and do other similar activities. She had the surgery in November. Dr. Tabor had placed the endotracheal tube in the patient’s esophagus.
Right after the intubation, something happened and she “crashed”. Dr. Sergio Tavares, the surgeon, placed her on a bypass machine. She “pinked up”, but they couldn’t get her off the bypass and the surgeon allegedly became angry, threw down his instrument and requested that the patient be reintubated. Dr. Tabor reintubated Mrs. Harper and she started breathing, but by then she had gone about 30 minutes without oxygen and was severely brain damaged. She died four days later after the family removed her from life support. The body was cremated without an autopsy.
Plaintiffs (Stan Harper, husband; Judy Johnson and Brian Harper, children; and Leroy Haught, decedent’s father) alleged improper intubation. Defendants contended the tube was placed properly – maintained there were signs and symptoms that assured Dr. Tabor that she placed it properly, e.g., she could see the chest moving, there was mist in the tube and she had CO2 on the monitor. Plaintiffs argued that all these signs and symptoms were unreliable. There were approx. $22,000 in medical specials.