Death of organ donor during surgery raises patient safety questions

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

April 11, 2012

The widow of a man who died while donating a part of his liver to his brother-in-law plans to file a lawsuit against the hospital where the transplant was performed, according to CNN. Lorraine Hawks lost her husband Paul in 2010 when major complications in the procedure caused Paul to bleed profusely and ultimately succumb to cardiac arrest. Several factors have led Hawks to question whether the hospital should be held responsible for his death.

Since her husband’s death, Hawks discovered that he had an abnormal EKG prior to the operation and may have had a partial heart attack, according to a report from the Department of Public Health. The report also noted that the hospital did not use a high-speed blood pump, known as a Belmont Pump, while attempting to save Paul Hawks, despite the fact that the device is portable and was in a nearby operating room. The report indicated that although surgeons did not consider these factors as contributors to Paul’s death, staff members did question whether patients with abnormal EKGs should be evaluated at a higher standard, and reported a desire to have had a Belmont Pump in the room.

Source: CNN