17-Year-Old Girl's Tragic Death After Routine Tonsillectomy Leads to Post-Operative Care Changes

Feb 05, 2013, 09:52 ET from Ross Feller Casey, LLP

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Following the death of a teenage patient and a subsequent medical malpractice lawsuit, a Montgomery County surgical center has implemented a number of updates to its recovery room policies aimed at improving patient care.

The safety improvements stem from the tragic death of high school junior Mariah Edwards, who, in March 2012, three days after her 17th birthday, underwent a routine tonsillectomy at Abington Surgical Center. After the procedure, Mariah was placed in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and administered Fentanyl, a strong narcotic pain reliever known to depress respiration.

Over the next 25 minutes, her respiratory condition rapidly worsened and went unnoticed by nurses, who failed to perform required assessments and were not warned by the equipment monitoring Mariah's vital signs because it was not set properly and was muted. Sadly, as a result of these oversights and others, Mariah sustained significant brain damage due to oxygen deprivation and died 15 days later.

Represented by personal injury firm Ross Feller Casey, LLP, Mariah's family recently settled a medical malpractice case against Abington Surgical Center for $6 million. Joel J. Feller, the family's attorney and a founding partner at Ross Feller Casey, said the case highlights the risks associated with post-operative surgical care, and he stressed that patients should ask questions not only about the procedure, but also about recovery room care.  The firm has provided a list of such questions on its website: http://www.rossfellercasey.com/post-op-checklist/

WPVI TV-6, Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, on Feb. 4 aired a story recounting the medical errors that led to the heartbreaking death of Mariah, who had dreams of someday becoming a fashion designer.

As a result of Mariah's death, Abington Surgical Center imposed a series of policy changes, including: each patient who has received IV narcotics in the PACU must be assigned one-on-one nurse care; patient monitoring equipment may no longer be muted; curtains restricting the view of the patient can no longer be drawn; and there must be a dedicated charge nurse to oversee nurse staffing and patient flow in the unit.

About Ross Feller Casey

Based in Philadelphia, Ross Feller Casey, LLP is a nationally recognized firm that represents the catastrophically injured. The firm's practice areas include personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, premises liability, workplace injury, and wrongful death. Visit http://www.rossfellercasey.com for more information.

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