$350,000 Lawsuit Settled in Nasal Dressing Death

$350 Thousand Lawsuit Settled in Nasal Dressing DeathA medical malpractice lawsuit filed against an anesthesiologist ended in a $350K settlement after a 29-year-old woman from Texas was allegedly killed when the nasal pack the anesthesiologist used allegedly became dislodged, and aspirated into her lungs, Outpatient Surgery Magazine reports.

Records from the Tarrant County District Court in Texas show that the patient, Joella Johnson, had a history of obesity and gastroesophageal reflux and was chronically hoarse. She elected to receive multiple procedures in May of 2007 to be performed at Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital in Azle, Texas, which included septoplasty, turbinectomy, bilateral maxillary antrostomies and ethmoidectomies, as well as the removal of the left concha bullosa, according to the news source.

As is done in such procedures, the attending surgeon finished by "packing" the patient's nose with surgical sponges secured in place by stitches.

According to Medscape, packing involves placing an intranasal device into the nasal cavities in order to apply constant pressure to the septum. The procedure is used to reduce mucosal irritation and decrease bleeding as well as aid in the formation of clots surrounding the area, enhancing pressure.

In Johnson's surgery, anaesthesiologist William Clifford Sanders performed a deep extubation before the patient was transferred to another area of the hospital to recover.

Johnson alleges that while she was being taken to the recovery room, she inhaled a piece of the packing an inch into her left nostril, and while Dr. Sanders pulled the gauze back into place, the sutures used to secure the packing were severed, allowing the material to become dislodged, causing her to aspirate the packing from the right nostril.

According to the National Library of Health, medical aspiration occurs whenever a foreign body is introduced into the breathing tracts and bronchial tubes, and can cause significant health problems.

After immediate remedial measures were unsuccessful, including three separate procedures, Dr. Sanders was able to remove the lodged packing by hand using forceps. But Johnson continued to allegedly suffer from metabolic acidosis, pulmonary edema, low blood pressure and arrhythmia before she died.

The Johnson family sued Dr. Sanders for gross negligence along with a bevy of other charges that, the family alleges, led to the delayed and improper treatment that hastened Johnson's death.

An agreement was approved by the court in July, awarding the Johnson family with $350K, the media outlet stated.