A stabbing victim who was starved of oxygen for around 13 minutes when his breathing tube came loose was awarded more than $4.9 million in arbitration recently. The arbiter determined that the patient’s permanent and severe brain damage was due to medical malpractice on the part of the California hospital where he taken for emergency care.

The victim was stabbed while at a trolley stop in San Diego in May 2011. He was rushed to UCSD Medical Center. Medical staff there inserted a breathing tube before transferring him to Kaiser Zion hospital, the other party in the arbitration.

The victim’s attorney said that shortly after arriving at Kaiser Zion, his client’s breathing tube became dislodged somehow, cutting off oxygen to his system. Somehow, nobody at Kaiser Zion noticed for a significant amount of time.

The man’s pulse and blood pressure stopped for around 13 minutes. He suffered brain damage that leaves him unable to work or care for himself.

Though Kaiser Zion denied responsibility for the man’s brain injury, the arbitrator found in his favor in a case filed by his conservator. The arbitrator awarded him a total of more than $4.9 million in damages. The compensation included lost future earnings, future care costs and non-economic damages.

It is not clear from an article about this brain injury case how it was that no doctor or nurse noticed the man’s distress once the breathing tube dislodged, or that they did notice and did not take action. But their performance apparently failed to reach the level of acceptable medical care, making Kaiser Zion responsible for the man’s injuries.

Source: San Francisco Business Times, “Kaiser Permanente loses $4.9 million in brain injury case,” Chris Rauber, Sep. 3, 2012