A 59-year-old female presented to an anesthesiologist during her colonoscopy. The anesthesiologist conducted a pre-operative anesthesia assessment of the patient. She was then transported to the procedure room where a certified registered nurse anesthetist (“CRNA”) was to provide total intravenous anesthesia to the patient.
The end-tidal CO2 monitor (“ETCO2 monitor”) located in the scheduled procedure room was non-functional on the day before the surgery and a functioning ETCO2 monitor had not been received on the day of the surgery.
The anesthesiologist instructed the CRNA to proceed with the anesthesia without the ETCO2 monitor. The anesthesiologist did not delay the procedure or postpone it for another date to allow time to obtain a functioning ETCO2 monitor. The anesthesiologist did not transfer the patient to another procedure room that had a functioning ETCO2 monitor. The anesthesiologist did not implement additional precautionary measures by closely monitoring the patient with his presence since he elected to proceed without an ETCO2 monitor as recommended by the ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists). The anesthesiologist was not present in the procedure room during the procedure.
The CRNA experienced difficulties with the patient’s airway soon after the induction of anesthesia. The oral airway was inserted to assist the patient’s breathing, and the amount of oxygen flow was increased to help with the falling oxygen saturation. Despite the increase in the amount of oxygen flow, the CRNS reported transient desaturations and reported repositioning the pulse oximeter numerous times throughout the procedure.
The patient developed bradycardia, which culminated to intubation and cardiac arrest, and the anesthesiologist’s presence was requested in the procedure room. The anesthesiologist started chest compressions and resuscitated the patient.
The Board judged the anesthesiologist’s conduct to be below the minimum standard of competence given that he should have delayed the procedure, or postponed it for another date to allow time to obtain a functioning ETCO2 monitor. He should also have transferred the patient to another procedure room that had a functioning ETCO2 monitor and implemented additional precautionary measures by closely monitoring the patient with since he elected to proceed without an ETCO2 monitor.
The Board ordered that the anesthesiologist pay a fine of $5,000 against his license and pay reimbursement costs for the case for a minimum of $6,841.07 and not to exceed $8,841.07. The Board also ordered that the anesthesiologist complete five hours of continuing medical education in general anesthesia and complete five hours of continuing medical education in “Risk Management.”
Date: November 2017
Diagnosis: Post-operative/Operative Complication
Medical Error: Failure to properly monitor patient
Significant Outcome: N/A
Case Rating: 3
Link to Original Case File: Download PDF
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