Air lift service allegedly fails to properly intubate patient, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Mar. 23, 2010, 2:48am

The parents of a deceased woman have filed suit against the air lift service and one of its employees who helped transport the woman to a hospital, claiming the employee of the air lift service incorrectly inserted an esophageal tube into the woman and caused her death.

Lyndon and Donna Prest claim Leslie Shelton was returning to her home in Coulterville on Oct. 16, 2008, when she was involved in a single-vehicle accident. According to the complaint filed March 9 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Shelton was driving west on Lindel Street, about 185 feet west of its intersection with Priest Road, when her truck veered off the road, traveled through a ditch and struck an embankment. That caused the vehicle to roll onto its passenger side and Shelton had to be extricated from it, the suit states.

Following the accident, Shelton died of hyupoxicischemic encephalopathy due to cardiopulmonary arrest associated with esphogeal intubation for a possible head injury, the complaint says. The Prests claim their daughter was pronounced dead at St. Louis University Hospital after she was declared brain dead on Oct. 20, 2008. Shelton, a divorced woman, left behind two children at the time of her death -- an 18-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son, according to the complaint.

The Prests say their daughter's death never would have occurred if not for the negligence of defendants Air Methods Corporation doing business as Arch Air Medical Services, and Jason Suedmeyer.

"As a result of the foregoing death of decedent which was a direct and proximate result of the negligence and conscious disregard for the treatment of and monitoring of decedent's medical condition, decedent's minor children/heirs at law have been deprived of the society and of a kind and loving mother's companionship and love they had the right to expect," the suit states.

In addition, Shelton's children have incurred funeral and burial costs and have suffered grief, sorrow and mental anguish, the complaint says.

Arch and Suedmeyer negligently failed to ensure consideration and investigation of the need for RSI protocol, failed to ensure protocol to pre-oxygenate a patient with 100 percent oxygen, failed to ensure protocol as to three to five minutes or four to five vital capacity breaths in a spontaneous breathing, failed to ensure protocol as to placement of Shelton in a neutral position before performing the intubation procedure and failed to ensure protocol to suction Shelton's airway, according to the complaint. In addition, the defendants failed to ensure they would monitor Shelton following the intubation procedure, failed to ensure they would recognize improper intubation in time for successful reintubation, failed to require the air transport unit had all the required equipment to perform an intubation procedure and failed to ensure its employee had proper training, the suit states.

In their four-count suit, the Prests seek a judgment of more than $100,000 and a judgment for Shelton's lost wages, medical expenses and her pain and suffering.

They will be represented by Charles H. Stegmeyer of Stegmeyer and Stegmeyer in Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-105.

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