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The anesthesiologist left the room and an assistant burned your face? Not his fault.

Dr. Bruce Adelman was sued by the Estate of Minnise Holt, after his botched surgery left Holt with first- and second-degree burns involving his face and airway.  He died ten weeks later from complications including pneumonia.  Adelman had put the patient under and then left him under the management of a nurse-anesthetist (CRNA).  Oxygen was allowed to accumulate under a drape over the patient's face, and it burst into flames when it was sparked by a Bovie cauterizing device.

  The injured man's attorney entered into evidence the American Society of Anesthesiologists "guidelines" which confirm that the anesthesiologist has ultimate responsibility for administration of anesthesia during surgery.  The Defendant acknowledged these guidelines, but claimed that they do not establish the "standard of care."  The plaintiffs asked the Judge to instruct the jury accordingly, however, he declined.  Ultimately, the jury found that the Anesthesiologist was not responsible for Mr. Holt's injuries and death.

  The trial judge told the parties that he was "shocked" by the jury's verdict, and ordered a new trial for Holt's family.  He explained that he had considered this matter for months and decided that some form of instruction about the anesthesiologist's duty should have been given.  The Defendant appealed his order of a new trial.

  The Court of Appeals over-turned the Judge's decision, holding that Michigan law does not recognize the ASA guidelines as authoritative.  It further determined that the verdict was not against "the great weight of the evidence", as the trial judge had concluded.  We wonder if the anesthesiologist billed the third-party payor for his management of the patient's anesthesia during surgery?  Nah, I bet the surgery was billed under a lower, CRNA rate.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262