Would she have gone through with the surgery had she known the risks? Whose job is it, exactly, to account for the variables that could mean life or death on the operating table? Even for rare conditions, should tests be performed to ensure that the operation is safe?
These are all important questions to the Kulebas, who filed a medical malpractice suit against surgeons at a Florida plastic surgery center after their daughter suffered a severe reaction and later died on the operating table. Her condition, known as malignant hypothermia, causes a severe reaction to general anesthesia and other drugs.
Anesthesiologists are trained to deal with situations in which malignant hypothermia appears. However, few are ever put in a situation where they have to respond to that sort of emergency. In this case, the anesthesiologist attempted to counteract the anesthesia’s effect, but was unable to save the young woman.
The Kulebas were barred from pursuing extensive damages by the state’s medical malpractice cap and, though an investigation of the doctors was conducted, both were found innocent of any failure in procedure or response. Everywhere the grieving parents looked, they found unwillingness to look into their daughter’s case.
Instead of simply becoming bitter, the Kulebas turned their frustration into action. Now, they are working to educate individuals around the country about the dangers posed by malignant hypothermia.
They hope that, someday soon, medical institutions and the doctors who work at them will be held more accountable for their actions and shortcomings. Sadly, they have continued to face more closed doors and closed minds since beginning their push for stricter regulations.