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New Details Emerge in New Mexico Woman’s Death During Open Heart Surgery

Posted in Firm News

New details are coming to light about the power failure at the University of New Mexico Hospital on August 11, 2011. The incident resulted in a loss of power in an operating room where a woman was having heart surgery performed. The surgery was aborted, and the woman ultimately died from cardiogenic shock. Last year, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the hospital on the woman’s behalf. Now, the hospital has filed suit against three contractors who performed an electrical upgrade on the hospital in 2009.

“No Backup Generator Kicked In”

According to an ABQ Journal report, it was over an hour into Kathleen Williams’ coronary bypass surgery at UNMH when the power to the operating room went out. Since the power interruption resulted from a rooftop circuit breaker problem, and not a larger power outage, the hospital’s back-up generator did not go into effect, and the lights and most machines supporting Ms. Williams were without power for a full 10 minutes. After the power was restored, the operating team decided to abort the operation and sewed Ms. Williams back up. Unfortunately, the shock of the surgery was too much for Ms. Williams to handle, and she died four days later.

Who is Responsible for Ms. Williams’ Death?

Last August, Ms. Williams’ family filed a New Mexico malpractice lawsuit against UNMH, alleging that the hospital breached the standard of care that they owed Ms. Williams. The suit alleges that the hospital failed to maintain the systems that are critical for the operating room to function, and this malpractice resulted in Ms. Williams’ death. Since the family has filed suit against the hospital, the hospital has filed a separate lawsuit against three contractors that installed an electrical upgrade in 2009. The hospital may divert some responsibility from themselves to the contractors, but whether the contractors or the hospital made the ultimate mistake has no effect on the hospital’s duty to Ms. Williams.

An Inherent Risk of Surgery or Malpractice?

A medical malpractice claim based on a failed surgery can sometimes be difficult to make, especially if the surgery has a serious risk even when performed correctly. For a New Mexico medical malpractice claim to succeed, a plaintiff needs to show that the doctor’s or hospital’s negligent behavior is what caused the injury or death. This may be complicated with an invasive or risky procedure, especially if the injury or death doesn’t occur until some time after the surgery. In some situations, doctors or hospitals will make mistakes, only to tell patients that the complication was inherent or unavoidable. It may be difficult for an injured patient or their family to know what actually caused an injury. An outside expert’s review of the incident can provide an independent opinion as to what happened.

Are you a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a medical procedure, the medical providers involved may be responsible for the damages that were caused. You should contact a New Mexico malpractice attorney and review your options. The experienced attorneys at the Fine Law Firm will perform the needed investigations and aggressively pursue your case to help get you the outcome you deserve. We represent clients in a variety of New Mexico personal injury cases, including medical malpractice. Contact us on our website or call (585)889-3463 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today More Blog Posts:

Medical Helicopter Crashes in New Mexico, Killing Three, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 28, 2014.

New Mexico State Police Officer Injured by Drunk Driver Late Last Month, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 7, 2014.