Trial Judge Awards Family Significant Damages as Mom Suffocates While Her Doctor Was Busy Doing a Crossword Puzzle

A Mom and her family will never be the same again and have recovered significant damages after an Oshawa doctor forgot to manually ventilate her during a routine surgery. Mom’s injured brain was deprived of oxygen, causing severe and permanent disability.

The mother of three was admitted to the hospital for elective ear surgery, expecting to be discharged the next day. The procedure was routine and uncomplicated. After giving her a general anaesthetic, the surgeon decided to manually ventilate her. This meant that each breath was entirely controlled by him, requiring him to diligently squeeze an anaesthetic bag attached to tubing so that Mom could breathe. This obviously required the anaesthetist’s attention.

After the initial incision was made, the nurse assisting the surgeon noticed that he had clipped a partially-completed crossword puzzle on top of Mom’s hospital chart. After a code 99 was called to summons the resuscitation team, but before the team arrived, the surgeon tore up the puzzle and began to scribble and cross things out on the hospital chart.

Mom went into cardiac arrest and emergency resuscitation was required to restore her vital functions. She had received insufficient oxygen for at least four minutes. She was in a coma for three weeks, following which she no longer recognized her husband or her children. She was hospitalized for 9 months and suffered permanent brain damage, having to re-learn how to walk, sit and construct sentences due to lost muscle tone and severe memory loss. She could no longer plan her daily activities, was incontinent and lost her capacity to reason and judge.

Sommers Roth & Elmaleh Professional Corporation has over 40 years of experience in medical malpractice litigation in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario, and across Canada.

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The above information is not legal advice. Past results of cases and recoveries by our medical malpractice lawyers against hospitals, doctors, midwives, nurses and other healthcare professionals are not necessarily indicative of future results. The amounts recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts in individual cases.