25 July 2010

Obese Patient Falls off Table in O.R., Dies

Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette

MINNEAPOLIS – Max DeVries was sedated and awaiting a routine surgery when he rolled off the operating table and hit his head on the floor, in the spot where doctors had earlier removed part of his skull because of brain swelling following a stroke.

The 61-year-old St. Paul, Minn., man later died, and his family contends St. Joseph’s Hospital of St. Paul didn’t use proper procedures and equipment to safeguard DeVries, who was 5-feet-5 and weighed about 330 pounds.

With growing obesity and about 30 percent of Americans obese, having adequate equipment for very heavy people has become an issue for hospitals and skilled nursing facilities for bariatric surgery in Detroit and elsewhere .

According to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Ramsey County District Court, “The fall from the operating table was a direct cause of, or contributed to, the death of Max DeVries.”

Robert Hajek, the family’s attorney, said the table’s three Velcro straps couldn’t hold DeVries.

The lawsuit contends that the hospital lacked “appropriate facilities and equipment, including wide enough tables and adequate restraints to perform an operation on Max DeVries.” The suit argues that DeVries’ weight “is not an unusual or abnormal weight for patients that experience stroke.”

In some cases, hospitals have bolted surgical tables to the floor to prevent heavy patients from tipping them over. How to care for overweight surgical patients has generated new operating-room products as well as medical journal articles and books in recent years.

Max DeVries’ son, Shawn DeVries, said his father’s fall could have been prevented if the hospital had used bigger bariatric patient restraint straps or maybe rails.

“Realistically, 330 pounds isn’t that much,” he said. “I’m 220 pounds. There are a lot of people who are this size.”

The operating room fall caused “substantial additional injuries,” the lawsuit contends. Additional surgeries were performed to save DeVries’ life, the suit states.

Max DeVries later suffered a massive stroke, Hajek said. He died on April 13.

No comments:

Post a Comment