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Routine Tonsillectomy Demonstrates How Errors Can Impact Routine Procedures

Those undergoing tonsil removal anticipate a very routine procedure with very few risks; and over 530,000 children undergo a tonsillectomy every year in the United States. This is why a family was devastated when a surgical error resulted in the death of their 9 year old daughter. The Detroit family is expected to file a lawsuit on the grounds of medical malpractice and wrongful death against the facility where the operation was performed and against the staff members who discharged the girl well before it was safe to do so.

Numerous Errors to Blame for Child’s Premature and Unnecessary Passing

Routine Tonsillectomy Demonstrates How Errors Can Impact Routine ProceduresAnyialah Gambrell required a tonsillectomy for a snoring problem that her family put off for years because they were ambivalent about the need for the procedure and whether it would be safe. Her doctor assured the family that the surgery would be routine and should last no longer than 40 minutes, but it went longer. After the two hour long operation, she was discharged before attending staff could be certain she was ready and died of complications a few hours after the surgery was completed.

The medical records recovered after her death showed that she had an undetected heart condition, an obstructed airway and that an inappropriate dose of anesthesia had been given. Following the operation, the nine year old did not feel well, but she was discharged anyway only to die soon after. The complaint states that the hospital did not make sure she was in stable condition prior to rushing her out the door. Premature discharge is a common cause of readmission to the hospital after surgery, but tonsil removal is typically so routine that people don’t give much thought about whether the patient is under duress afterward.

Far More Questions Abound than Answers Following the Tragedy

The Gambrell family is outraged at the manner in which all of their concerns were treated and in the lack of answers they have received regarding the matter. Their attorney alleged that every single person involved in the procedure failed to perform his or her duty in a responsible manner and that the result was a complete travesty. From failing to screen Anyialah for a heart condition prior to administering anesthesia to brushing off the family’s concerns after the procedure, nothing about this routine procedure seemed to be handled in a routine manner.

Doctors had assured the Gambrells that everything would be okay. With half a million of these procedures performed every year without incident, they were very low risk and performed on a daily basis. There was absolutely nothing to fear, until there was.

In order to prove medical malpractice, a plaintiff must show that medical professionals failed to act in the manner that any other specialist would have under similar circumstances. Breaches in this duty of care can be found in the manner Gambrell was vetted for the operation, how her anesthesiologist monitored her throughout the procedure, the extended length of the operation and then the subsequent rush to have her discharged without first addressing her family’s concerns.

This is a cautionary tale for anyone who is considering undergoing a surgical procedure, regardless of how routine or basic it may be. The best way to protect yourself is to ask questions before the procedure to make sure that you are aware of what to expect heading in and to refuse to allow your concerns to be brushed off. Surgeons are capable of making mistakes during the most basic and minor routine surgeries, but we hardly hear of these errors because they take the needed steps to correct them before they can cause considerable harm.

If the tonsillectomy that Gambrell underwent was truly routine, she may still be alive and well.