A sore throat is generally seen as a minor complaint. It may be a sign of an oncoming cold or seasonal allergies. However, it could also be the sign of something more serious, like tonsillitis or strep throat. A visit to the emergency room can help to determine if the sore throat is caused by something that requires medical attention. However, no one expects to go to the ER for a sore throat and end up dead.
Antonio Marrero, a 32-year-old maintenance mechanic on the island of Oahu, began to complain of a sore throat. The pain made it difficult to eat, and he stayed home for about a week trying to recover. Eventually, his vacation time ran out and he went back to work, even though the sore throat had not improved. His employer suggested he go to the doctor.
Marrero eventually went to the emergency department of the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. The sore throat was not just the sign of a cold but instead was caused by an abscess in his tonsils. The ER doctor sent Marrero to be seen by an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT). However, the ER doctor first decided to do a more in-depth evaluation while Marrero was sedated.
Marrero was sedated under the doctor's care, although there was no anesthesiologist present at the time. The doctor allegedly gave the man too much of the sedative, and as a result, he lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen and died. His wife was shocked to hear that her husband who had come in complaining of a sore throat was suddenly dead.
After filing a medical malpractice claim, the widow and children of Marrero settled the claim with the government for $4.2 million, to provide for his wife and kids. According to the lawsuit, the doctor should have understood that it would have been difficult to protect Marrero's airway under sedation, especially after he was given too much of the sedative drug.
The health center's Chief Medical Officer called the situation unfortunate. “Our providers work tirelessly to assure that the best quality of care is given to our patients,” said Dr. Stephen Bradley. “We grieve that in this case things occurred the way they did and we have this unfortunate outcome.”
As a result of the tragic death, the health center made changes to reduce the likelihood of a similar accident. This includes bringing on a new emergency room director to oversee operations, a chief quality officer, and a new full-time compliance officer. In addition, the center will open a new, state-of-the-art ER facility within the year.
If you or a loved one was injured because of a medical mistake during a simple hospital visit, the Gilman & Bedigian team is here to help. We are fully equipped to handle the complex process of your medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.