Local lawyer Bruce Steckler says he is representing five clients whose routine surgeries went wrong at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, which paused operations last week when the hospital discovered an IV bag that appeared to have been compromised. Four of those five ended up in the ICU, he says.
Over the last week, a series of claims led to investigations into the hospital, physicians, and patients. The matter began when the facility stopped operating because of the tainted IV bag. Later, a Dallas family was contacted by federal investigators after their 18-year old son had a life-threatening medical emergency and ended up in the intensive care unit after a surgery at BSW Surgicare, which is a facility that performs outpatient surgical procedures.
The Dallas Police Department confirmed it is investigating the death of anesthesiologist Dr. Anna Kaspar, who practiced at BSW Surgicare. Kaspar’s online obituary says she died of a heart attack on June 21, but NBC5 reported that the Dallas County Medical Examiner found that the she died from the toxic effects from bupivacaine, a local anesthetic used to numb parts of the body during surgery. Kaspar had taken an IV bag from the hospital and attempted to hydrate herself when she felt dehydrated. Soon after using the IV, NBC5 reported that she had a heart attack.
In addition to Kaspar’s death, Steckler says he now represents five former patients at BSW Surgicare who all had to be transferred to a different facility to receive a higher level of care during or after their surgeries.
Four of his patients went into respiratory distress during the surgery and had to intubated before being transferred to the ICU. Steckler says three of the patients were 21 and younger and all were receiving elective surgeries. Two of his clients were having gallbladder operations, one was having a rhinoplasty, one a breast augmentation, and another a reverse vasectomy. All of them had to be transferred to a higher-level facility but are now recovering.
“You don’t expect routine procedures to necessitate being in a trauma hospital, especially for people that are healthy and vibrant,” Steckler says. “You don’t elective procedures to end in a cardiac arrest in the midst of a procedure. That is statistically unlikely. To have that three times is scary to say the least.”
One patient had to receive life saving measures in the middle of the surgery. When he recovered, the surgery was completed. Others had to spend up to four days in the ICU. “It was completely unexplained as to how this happened. They’re doing well, but they’re all having to follow up with cardiologists because of the risk associated with heart damage,” Steckler says.
A parent of one of the 18-year old patients who received life-saving interventions lamented what happened in a statement provided to Steckler. “The idea that we could take our healthy, vibrant 18 year old in for routine surgery and 90 minutes in be told that he had 50-50 odds of survival is nightmare.”
Steckler says that his clients were not, to his knowledge, treated by the same providers or caregivers at the hospital. But there may be other patients with adverse outcomes after having an operation there. “It’s my understanding that my client and the woman who died were not isolated incidences,” he says. “What I’m hearing from people is that there were a number of folks that had been impacted over the course of the summer.”
Dallas police referred all questions to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which said it cannot confirm or deny an investigation before charges are filed.
Steckler, a personal injury lawyer with a diverse practice, emphasized that he and his clients are working with investigators and the hospital to make sure this doesn’t happen again. “How many adverse events do you need?” He said. “How many have happened over a period of time before you have a red flag?”
Baylor released a statement: “There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our patients.” The hospital has set up a dedicated phone number for patients with questions. It’s 214-818-2794.
A letter from an administrator on BSW Surgicare North Dallas’ website says, “Our mission is to care for every patient and their family as if they were our own. Each patient, each family, each and every time.”