A Dauphin County, PA, court awarded a young man $1.1 million in a brain-injury medical malpractice lawsuit on Tuesday, June 19.
Keonte Graham was suffering from sleep apnea, a serious but manageable medical condition in which patients periodically stop breathing during the night. This leads to restless sleep, poor quality of sleep, and can be dangerous. His doctor, Andrew Shapiro of the Dauphin County-based Associated Otolaryngologists of Pennsylvania, recommended Keonte receive surgery for his condition. His family assented at Dr. Shapiro’s recommendation, and the procedure was performed at Harrisburg Hospital.
The procedure went wrong, and Keonte was left with serious brain injuries and developmental disorders that his attorneys asserted will affect him well into adulthood.
The suit argued that Keonte’s existing medical difficulty with apnea, plus other undisclosed specifics of his medical history, put him at serious risk when going under anesthesia for surgery. They illustrated this point by demonstrating that he had repeated difficulty breathing during the surgery, and that he had to stay for an extended period of recovery after the procedure.
Further, the suit argued that Dr. Shapiro neglected to be properly thorough in his post-examination routine, even to the point of outright neglecting proper examinations. Keonte was placed in a standard floor room instead of the intensive care as someone who had experienced his level of surgical difficulty and side effects would warrant. Keonte was later found to be not breathing and with no pulse, an event known as a cardiac arrest.
Neither injury would likely have occurred had Shapiro instructed staff to monitor Keonte’s respiration and blood-oxygen levels in the hours after the surgery. The incident caused Keonte a brain injury extensive and serious enough that it is clearly visible on an MRI scan.
The jury ultimately sided with the plaintiffs, and ordered Shapiro to pay damages of $1.1 million. The lawsuit did not name Harrisburg Hospital as a defendant – the blame was squarely centered on Shapiro’s negligent practices.