Lawsuit Claims Botched Anesthesia at Texas Institute for Surgery Resulted in Brain Damage

A workers’ compensation insurer is suing the Texas Institute for Surgery at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas for a series of missteps they say led a woman to flatline after ankle surgery, resulting in brain damage.

Zenith Insurance Co. is suing to recoup millions of dollars in medical and indemnity obligations made to or on behalf of Tyra Price. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. According to the complaint, Price works as an employee of Star Dunkin’ LP, which, from what I can tell, is affiliated with Dunkin’ Donuts. Price allegedly slipped and fell while at work, resulting in a broken right ankle.

The complaint says 36-year-old Price underwent what should’ve been a routine surgery on May 20, 2016. After coming out of anesthesia, Price, who is obese, allegedly became agitated on multiple occasions, vomited, and aspirated. Zenith, which is based in California, claims that the hospital staff should’ve been anticipating potential complications.

Instead, Price was unable to breathe properly and didn’t get enough oxygen into her blood, according to the complaint. Zenith says the subsequent administering of the drug Labetalol caused Price to flatline and made it difficult for doctors to resuscitate her. She didn’t have a pulse for more than 22 minutes, according to the complaint, and suffered “profound and permanent anoxic brain injuries.”

Among other failures, Zenith charges that doctors and nurses failed to appreciate the risks for aspiration inherent in an obese patient, failed to quickly and properly investigate whether Price aspirated, failed to suction her airway until after she flatlined, and administered an excessive dose of Labetalol.

Representatives from the Texas Institute for Surgery and Zenith Insurance each declined to comment.

In addition to the Texas Institute for Surgery, the suit names Dr. John Zipper as a defendant. Zipper was the anesthesiologist during the surgery, according to the suit. His LinkedIn page says he’s employed by Atlas Anesthesia Associates, an anesthesia group based in Dallas.

Atlas was in the news in December. Its management company, Limbic Partners, pleaded guilty for fraud after filing false claims amounting to $3.4 million during a two-year period from 2011 to 2013.