Even the most nervous patient, who has imagined every possible worst-case scenario involving surgery, probably couldn’t have anticipated this one. A Minnesota man died after rolling off the operating table.  The 61-year-old patient was sedated at the time of his fatal fall. But, no cause for alarm regarding patient safety at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, because it is “conducting an investigation.”

Max DeVries was scheduled for a routine procedure when he rolled off the operating table and struck his head on the ground.  He hit his head in the very spot where doctors had removed a portion of his skull due to brain swelling.  Apparently the Velcro straps that had secured the 300-pound man failed.

Mr. DeVries later died.  A lawsuit has been filed by his family, which states that the hospital didn’t use proper procedures and equipment to protect Mr. DeVries.  According to the lawsuit, the fall was the “direct cause of, or contributed to” his death.

What did the hospital have to say?

According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, the hospital released a statement saying, "St. Joseph's Hospital and HealthEast Care System take this situation and this family's concerns very seriously. We extend sincere sympathy to the family of Max DeVries.  St. Joseph's Hospital and HealthEast Care System have a strong commitment to patient safety and have been nationally recognized for providing the highest quality patient care. When there are patient safety concerns, we always conduct a thorough internal investigation to ensure that our processes meet rigorous standards for safety and implement improvements that we believe will advance safety."

It’s been months after this accident, how can the hospital be conducting an investigation?

This is an event that should never have happened.  Put it up there with other “never should have happened” events, like wrong site surgery.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.
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