The family of a man who died after routine surgery has sued Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif., alleging that the hospital was negligent and conspired to cover up the negligence with false pathology reports. The hospital claims that the family’s allegations are “preposterous.”

Patient Death

A lawsuit has been filed alleging conspiracy and negligence after a California man died following routine surgery.

On January 27, 2010, Tyrone Taylor, 42, of Arroyo Grande, had surgery to remove a problematic disk in his spine. According to the hospital, one of the complications of the surgery is a possible post-operative hematoma, which can swell and obstruct the windpipe. Taylor reported that his breathing was different about 12 hours after the surgery, and at 2 a.m. (PST), a nurse called his surgeon, Donald Ramberg, regarding Taylor’s breathing changes, also stating that he had difficulty swallowing and that there was swelling. The surgeon ordered an ice pack and numbing gel, believing that Taylor simply had a sore throat. Ten minutes later, the nurse called for a rapid response team who gave him oxygen and anxiety medication before leaving the room. At 2:30 a.m., Taylor had no pulse and was blue in the face. An hourlong attempt to resuscitate him failed, and he was pronounced dead by emergency room surgeon Rushdi Cader, who stated that Taylor had died of a post-operative hematoma. Bogus Autopsy The county coroner’s office denied a request for an autopsy because Cader had witnessed Taylor’s death, but the hospital risk manager requested permission from Taylor’s widow, Sara, to consent to a private autopsy of her husband’s body.  George Vandermark, a pathologist for 1-800-Autopsy—a private firm recommended by hospital officials—claimed that the cause of death was fatty liver, stating that he found no “bleeding, swelling or blood clotting.”  Mrs. Taylor sought a second autopsy when she became suspicious of Vandermark’s findings, and that procedure agreed with Cader’s assessment that Mr. Taylor died of a hematoma. Easily Treated The lawsuit contends that the hospital knew that failure to diagnose the hematoma led to Mr. Taylor’s death, and that their nursing staff followed all protocols. Court documents say that the hematoma could have been easily treated with a small surgical incision, and that there was no evidence of a fatty liver causing Mr. Taylor’s death. Dr. Ramberg claimed that he was not informed of the patient’s difficulty breathing or that his voice had changed, and says that he did not accept the autopsy findings reported by Dr. Vandermark. When the negligence of a medical professional or hospital is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in an incident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an incident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by medical malpractice.

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