“Candace” worked in the Bronx as a home health aid as a means to obtain affordable healthcare that would otherwise be inaccessible to her. A friend let Candace use her name, social security number as well as insurance information so that she could arrange for surgery. (A fact in the case, which naturally, the defense attorneys made a big deal about.)
The day of the surgery, “Norma”, one of Candace’s daughters was waiting in the hospital lounge. The operation hadn’t started yet, when the anesthesiologist and the orthopedic surgeon came out, and informed her that her mother was being sent to intensive care because she was having seizures.
Despite assurances that her mother would be fine, Candace slipped into a coma and doctors told Norma her mother had sustained irreversible brain damage. After about a month and a half, Candace died.
During the course of pre-trial litigation, it was learned that hospital administrators and doctors discussed what went wrong during meetings to address complicated cases. The anesthesiologist admitted to having been alone when he administered the epidural anesthesia. When Candace’s respiration and blood pressure decreased, he had difficulty intubating her in order to supply her with medicine that would raise her blood pressures. It took him over 5 minutes to give her oxygen. The orthopedic surgeon testified that when he entered the operating room, he detected that there was something wrong. The anesthesiologist told him it was fine to move forward with the knee surgery, but the orthopedic surgeon refused and called other hospital staff members to get the patient into intensive care.
Norma testified that her family is “lost” without their mom. Under New York’s wrongful death law, she pursued money damages for the lack of guidance that the children sustained because of Candace’s death. Eventually the case was settled before it went to trial.