Tamara Walter underwent a successful lap-band surgery at an outpatient surgery center, but her recovery was another story.
Five hours after Tamara’s surgery, her sister received a call from a panicked person at the surgery center. They told her Tamara wasn’t breathing, was foaming at the mouth and had been transferred to a hospital. The anesthesiologist had apparently removed Tamara’s breathing tube before giving her the drugs to reverse her anesthesia, leaving her partially paralyzed and struggling to breath.
The clinic’s records are unclear about exactly what happened after that, but she eventually went into cardiac arrest, never regained consciousness and died three days later.
The coroner ruled Tamara died as a result of her inadequate care under anesthesia. An independent anesthesiologist who examined the record for the coroner questioned whether, as an obese woman with sleep apnea, Tamara should have been accepted for outpatient surgery to begin with. But the report said Tamara could have survived even after her postoperative care in time.
Tamara died a needless death, but since she was not married and had no children her life was worth no more than $250,000 under MICRA’s outdated cap, and her surviving siblings were unable to pursue a medical malpractice suit.