An undisclosed settlement was reached Friday in a medical negligence case against Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna and two medical care professionals stemming from the 1996 death of a 24-year-old Ravenna Township woman who was admitted to the hospital with chicken pox.
Carol Hayes' husband, Roger Hayes Jr., filed a wrongful death, medical malpractice suit in 1997 claiming that his wife died following a surgical procedure, a tracheotomy, that should not have proceeded. He alleged that she was not assessed prior to undergoing anesthesia and she was not properly monitored during and after the surgery, according to the complaint.
Hayes said his wife was brought out of the operating room in a severely brain-damaged condition that directly resulted in her death. According to a trial brief submitted last week by the defendants, the plaintiff claims his wife suffered cardiorespiratory arrest at the end of the surgery.
At the time of her transfer back to the intensive care unit from the operating room, which is a 10-minute period of "significant disagreement" between the parties, a nurse indicated the only monitor attached to Hayes following the surgery was an EKG, according to the brief. She reportedly did not have a pulse.
"Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the doctors or nurses, the air being pushed into Carol Hayes' lungs during the surgery was not adequately ventilating and oxygenating her," the brief stated, citing blockage due to severe lung disease as the cause.
She died June 29, nine days after the surgery. Because of the terminal nature of her condition, her ventilator was removed a week after the surgery, according to the defendants' brief.
Defendants in the case included the hospital, Ravenna Anesthesia Services, Inc., Nancy Eltalawi, M.D., the anesthesiologist, and Mary Ann Sanchez, the nurse/anesthetist. Thoracic surgeon Badr Ghumrawi was dismissed from the case last March.
The case was scheduled to go to trial Monday in the Portage County Common Pleas Court, Judge John Enlow said, adding that the trial was expected to last up to two weeks.
According to defense attorneys, Carol Hayes had at best a 10 percent chance of survival the day of the surgery "due to her long-standing severe lung disease and the involvement of other organ problems."
Hayes, who was admitted to the hospital May 26, 1996, had been diagnosed with pneumonia as a result of the chicken pox and had developed ARDS, Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Progressive respiratory failure was accompanied by problems such as cerebral edema, a bleeding disorder and evidence of liver failure.
Intubated in the Coronary Care Unit with mechanical ventilation, she was given a cardiac pacemaker because of periods of slowed heart rates, according to the defendants' brief. She was in isolation because of her severe chicken pox rash.
K. Richard Aughenbaugh of Akron, attorney for Robinson Memorial Hospital, declined to comment about the case. The plaintiff's attorney, James Rudgers of Akron, did not return calls seeking comment.
Neither Matthew Moriarty, the Pepper Pike attorney for the medical staff members, nor Ted Zawadski, the general counsel for the hospital, would disclose the settlement amount.
"Robinson Memorial Hospital is pleased for the parties involved in this matter that a settlement has been reached to everyone's satisfaction," Zawadski said. "The small amount contributed by the hospital to the settlement was made to avoid the expense of a trial. We wish Mr. Hayes and his family well."
The defendants in the case remain members of the hospital medical staff, he said.