Having a child injured during what is supposed to be a low risk surgery is a parent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately the nightmare became true for the parents of a California teen who was undergoing surgery for sleep apnea. The child experienced complications during surgery where her heart apparently stopped beating. This likely caused a shortage of oxygen to her brain.

With the child essentially breathing through a ventilator and doctors fearing that she was brain dead, a legal battle ensued as to whether she could be taken off life support. A judge eventually ruled that the family could have her remain on life support and she could be taken to a long-term care facility in New Jersey. 

After which, the teen’s family decided to initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician and the hospital; claiming that they were negligent in opting for invasive surgery that would put her life at risk, since she reportedly had a malformed artery at the surgical site that could lead to pronounced bleeding.

While hospital has not commented on the case, it is alleged that the doctor noted that this may be a possibility, but did not inform nurses that he had seen it during the surgery, which would have changed how she was cared for in post operative care.

Nevertheless, the case is an example of a failure to use reasonable care in the context of a medical procedure. If they prevail, the family (and the teen) could be awarded damages for pain and suffering, medical costs, and lost wages.

It remains to be seen how the case will be handled going forward.