Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
A brain surgeon replaced the batteries in only one of two brain stimulator devices during an operation.
A man’s toes were amputated as a result of sepsis at the hospital.
A woman died after having a stroke when a drain attached to her cranium stopped working for 10 hours.
Those were among the allegations made in medical malpractice lawsuits against the University of New Mexico Hospital that led to hefty settlements.
Details of six such settlements were published on a state Sunshine Portal in the past six weeks.
Last year, the Governor’s Office started publishing state settlements online, and in July and the first two weeks of August, 11 settlements were posted.
They include a $10,000 settlement against New Mexico Workforce Solutions, a $24,000 settlement against Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court and a $45,000 settlement UNM made with independent journalist Daniel Libit for not complying with state open records law. There was also a $30,000 settlement against San Juan College and a $5,000 settlement against the New Mexico State Fair Commission.
The remaining cases made public on the portal were from medical malpractice lawsuits against UNMH. The settlements, which combined for about $2.4 million, brought an end to cases dating back to 2013.
“As a matter of practice, we do not comment on specific settlements,” said Alex Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the UNM Health Sciences Center.
Here’s a brief summary of the cases:
• Dennis Crowley and Bruce Redford, a married Bernalillo County couple, filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice during a brain surgery performed on Crowley, who went under the knife to replace two battery packs for his deep brain stimulator in April 2018. The lawsuit alleges the neurosurgeon replaced only one of the battery packs. UNMH settled the lawsuit for $275,000.
• Pearl Woody fell at work and was admitted to UNMH in November 2014, partly because a preexisting condition resulted in elevated intracranial pressure, according to the lawsuit. A drain was placed in her cranium, but it stopped working and remained closed for about 10 hours. During that time, she suffered a stroke and later died. Woody’s personal representative, Tressia Castillo, filed a lawsuit, which was settled for $315,000.
• After being found unconscious in his home in June 2018, John Bedford received care at UNMH, where doctors determined he had low sodium levels. A lawsuit alleges that the sodium levels were raised too rapidly, leaving him with severe and permanent damage, including central pontine myelinolysis. The lawsuit was settled for $575,000.
• Ron Anderson was admitted to UNMH with a bowel obstruction in October 2013 and underwent surgery. The lawsuit alleges that a leak developed at the surgical site and became septic. His toes on his right foot later had to be amputated, and he required dialysis. Anderson and his wife, Rae Roberts, filed a lawsuit, which was settled for $395,000.
• Jasmine Pacheco went in July 2017 to the UNM Center for Reproductive Health, where she was seeking an intrauterine device for long-term birth control. During the procedure, the lawsuit alleges, the doctor attempted to insert the IUD with such force that it punctured her uterine wall, requiring corrective surgery. Pacheco settled with UNMH for $50,000.
• A settlement with Frank Romero, the personal representative of his wife, Victoria Romero, who is deceased, was completed in January and made public last week. The settlement for $750,000 was to settle a tort claim notice sent to the university Nov. 27, 2018.