Woman Sues Hospital Over Fall Off Operating Table

Florence Fiedler of New Canaan filed a lawsuit against a Connecticut hospital saying she was severely injured when she fell off an operating table after surgery.  Attorneys for 81-year-old Fiedler filed the lawsuit against Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven Superior Court.

In February 2010, Fiedler had a pacemaker implanted.  A pacemaker is a small battery-operated device that can be implanted under the skin.  It delivers electrical pulses to the heart muscle in order to make it beat at a normal rhythm.   This surgery is generally performed under local anesthesia, but a sedative may be given to help the patient relax or reach a twilight sleep state.  The surgery takes anywhere from 1-3 hours.  This surgery is considered a minimally invasive procedure. After the surgery, a patient is usually monitored overnight in an intensive care or intermediate care unit.  Unfortunately for Fiedler, this wasn’t the case as, after the surgery, she fell off the table suffering fractures of the hip and collarbone, a head injury that resulted in bleeding under the skull and other injuries as well. 

According to the lawsuit, the hospital didn’t implement policies and procedures to prevent Fiedler from falling and also failed to recognize that she was not completely recovered from the medications she had received during surgery, which put her at increased risk for falling.  Fiedler was left unattended and hospital employees did not place the operating table to the lowest position before allowing Fiedler to reposition herself the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit states that Fiedler now has difficulty climbing stairs, had to relearn how to walk and can no longer drive a car or live in her own home.  Fiedler is a retired FBI administrator who traveled extensively before her surgery.  Now she is basically a shut-in, her attorney said. 

Attorney James Horwitz commented that his client was an active, vibrant woman in her golden years and now she is a very old woman because the medical staff involved in the incident didn’t pay attention and that is terrible and it’s outrageous.

Yale-New Haven is the primary teaching hospital for Yale University’s School of Medicine.  The hospital is considered on of the nation’s leading providers of heart and vascular health services, offering the most advanced technology and facilities, as well as a dedicated team of physicians and nurses.

Medical malpractice is professional negligence by act or omission by a health care provider in which the treatment provided falls below the accepted standard of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient.  Statistics show that approximately 195,000 people are killed every year by medical errors.  The study notes that about 1.14 million patient safety incidents occurred among the 37 million hospitalizations in the Medicare population.  Hospital costs associated with such medical errors were estimated at $324 million in October 2008 alone.

Rob Hutchison, spokesman for Yale-New Haven Hospital, says the hospital promptly reported the incident to the state Department of Public Health and implemented a corrective action plan.  He said that Yale-New Haven Hospital is committed to providing the safest and highest quality care to its patients and the hospital deeply regrets this incident, and we have apologized to the patient.

The lawsuit, which also names the university, seeks more than $15,000 in damages.