A D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday awarded $600,000 in damages to a Southeast Washington woman whose husband died in a Hadley Memorial Hospital recovery room after undergoing surgery.
Sheila B. Chandler, 33, sued the hospital and three doctors for malpractice after her husband's death in 1978 following stomach surgery to reduce his obesity. Her husband, Gerald Chandler, who was then 25 years old, was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 425 pounds.
An oxygen tube in Chandler's throat dislodged when he began stirring as the effects of the anesthesia wore off and he died from a lack of oxygen, according to Charles C. Parsons, Sheila Chandler's attorney. Parsons said it was not uncommon for patients coming out of surgery to begin thrashing about, a practice medical personnel refer to as "bucking." But hospital personnel failed to use restraints often placed on patients in those situations and failed to react in time to save him after they had become aware that the tube in his trachea had dislodged, Parsons said.
A six-person jury, after a four-day trial before Judge Sylvia Bacon, awarded Sheila Chandler $300,000 as the representative of her husband's estate, another $200,000 to her individually and $50,000 each to her daughters, Angelita, 11, and Nichole, 5. She had sued for $2 million in damages.
The three doctors involved, Yussef Akbari, the surgeon, and anesthesiologists Ahmet Ozbey and Christine Johnston, agreed last Monday, the day before the trial began, to settle the case for $300,000, Parsons said, which means the hospital will pay the remaining $300,000.
Chandler, who worked in a warehouse for the Stanford Paper Co. in northeast Washington, underwent gastric bypass surgery, which entails closing off a portion of his stomach, reducing his capacity to eat, according to lawyers in the case.