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The Dangers of Medical Recovery Rooms

Philadelphia news station WPVI published a startling investigative report last week about the dangers of medical recovery rooms.

The story begins in March of last year, when a female high school student went to a surgical center for a routine outpatient tonsillectomy. After initially being told that her daughter’s surgery went well, the young girl’s mother was then told that her daughter needed to be rushed to the hospital. The young girl was pronounced brain dead and later died.

The girl’s parents filed a lawsuit and their lawyer found out the truth about what happened that day. According to their attorney, the girl “died as a result of being abandoned, not monitored, and not watched by nurses, in the recovery room for a period of over 25 minutes.” It is believed that the painkiller, fentanyl, that was administered to her put her into respiratory distress. The nurse who was supposed to be watching her was tending to another patient.

In an operating room, a patient is cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, and an anesthesiologist. But the recovery room can be a different scenario, often with one nurse tending to several patients. These patients can be coming out of anesthesia and cannot communicate for themselves.

In the case of this young girl, the nurse admitted that the monitors had been muted and the curtains drawn. As a result of this incident, the surgery center said they have changed several policies and procedures.

Procedures can vary from center to center and hospital to hospital. If you are going in for surgery, it’s recommended that you ask about the recovery room plans, including what drugs will be administered and who will be watching you.