Wrongful death complaint filed over epidural injection

Steve Gonzalez Mar. 25, 2008, 1:22am

The estate of Oliver McAfoos filed a wrongful death complaint against Saint Anthony's Hospital and Dr. Samuel Figueroa in Madison County Circuit Court March 10, alleging the defendants deviated from the standard of care when performing an epidural injection on Nov. 7, 2005, which eventually caused his death on April 6, 2006.

McAfoos' estate alleges Dr. Figueroa was performing the injection at Saint Anthony's in an attempt to alleviate chronic back and hip pain.

According to Dr. Paul Dreyfuss, a clinical professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, an epidural injection places anti-inflammatory medicine into the epidural space to decrease inflammation of the nerve roots, hopefully reducing the pain in the back or legs.

According to the complaint, McAfoos stopped taking Plavix and Coumadin three days before the injection. The medication was needed due to his recent bypass surgery.

Plavix is used to help keep platelets from sticking together and forming clots, which can help protect against a future heart attack or stroke while Coumadin prevents clots from forming in the blood.

McAfoos' estate claims four days after the injection he returned to the hospital with complications resulting from the injection, including severe back pain.

Saint Anthony's diagnosed him with an epidural hematoma that required he be transported by helicopter to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis.

The estate alleged the defendants negligently deviated from accepted standards of health care by negligently and carelessly failing to test his bleed time, permitted injections when he had been on Plavix and Coumadin for less than seven days and failed to establish protocols for employees to follow when taking a history or screening a patient for an epidural.

His estate also alleges the defendants failed to take a complete medical history, failed to consult him on medical history or for a proper medical workup to determine his suitability for epidural injections, failed to properly train on performing intake evaluations and failed to warn him of the risks associated with epidural injections while on Plavix and Coumadin.

According to the estate, McAfoos was in a coma from Nov. 13, 2005, and remained in one until his death which caused him to sustain pain and suffering, a disability and medical expenses.

The estate also claims McAfoos next of kin lost his companionship, society and guidance and suffered "immeasurable grief" and sustained economic losses in medical and burial-related expenses.

Represented by Lanny Darr of Alton, the estate is seeking a judgment in excess of $150,000, plus costs of the suit.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

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