ST. LOUIS – The family of a man who suffered brain damage and death after complications emerged during the insertion of a tube into his trachea won $1.75 million from a Kansas jury.
“They took the young man to the operating room where the anesthesiologist gave him general anesthesia, knocked him out and failed to get him intubated five times,” said Jason Roth of Copley Roth & Davies, which represented the parents of Drew Bodenhausen, 28.
Bodenhausen was in a traffic accident in May 2013 that left him with substantial injuries, including scar tissue in his windpipe due to intubation, Roth said. Despite making a recovery in most respects, Bodenhausen presented at the emergency room with trouble breathing in mid-July and was prepped for an emergency tracheostomy, Roth said. The defendant anesthesiologist, Dr. Dinesh Kushangi, rendered the patient unconscious but found it difficult to intubate him due to the scar tissue, Roth said.
Eventually, the defendant used a camera to examine the problem before ultimately notifying the surgeon, Roth said. Further complications after the surgeon’s arrival continued to delay the procedure after the patient vomited and aspirated gastric contents.
“Ultimately, the kid goes without oxygen for so long that he has irreversible brain damage,” Roth said.
Roth said that Bodenhausen was removed from life support less than three weeks later. The plaintiffs alleged that the anesthesiologist inappropriately administered general anesthesia and that he should not have proceeded without the surgeon whom they alleged was not present, he said. The Bodenhausens also alleged that the defendant failed to promptly inform the surgeon of problems.
The Bodenhausens reached a confidential settlement with the surgeon before trial and only the claims against Kushangi went to court, Roth said. The Johnson County jury was not made aware of the settlement during the six-day trial, he said. The hospital was also named in the suit but had been dismissed earlier in the case.
The defendant contended that the problems resulted from known risks of the emergency procedure due to scar tissue in the windpipe rather than any negligence, Roth said.
He said that he believes the jury was swayed by his expert witness.
“I believe that the jury found him credible and authentic,” he said. “He basically said that the doctor violated the standard of care in multiple ways.”
Bruce Keplinger and Samuel Bennett were listed as representing the defendants. Keplinger did not return a message requesting comment and Bennett said he was undecided on whether to comment and did not respond further.