Heart attack during a minor surgery

My husband had day surgery to correct bone spurs on his shoulder. The surgery went fine but when the anesthesiologist gave him meds to wake from the surgery my husband had a heart attack. He has no previous history of any heart problems. He had yearly physicals and no one ever found anything wrong with his heart. Then 2 days after the heart attack, a cardiologist gave him a heart cathiter to try to find the underlying heart problem that could have caused this and the only problem with my husband’s heart is damage from the heart attack. My husband didn’t need a stint or have clogged arteries or anything that the doctors expected to find. Only heart damage from the heart attack

Asked on June 21, 2017 under Malpractice Law, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

IF the surgery (or something else done during it) caused the heart attack, then you *may* have a viable malpractice suit. But you need some medical evidence, like a doctor's opinion, in which the doctor identifies what caused the heart attack and how it occured, to show this. It's not enough that your husband had seemingly been in good heart health or that the heart attack occured during surgery--that does not prove cause and effect. It only shows that the timing was coincidental, but since otherwise health people do have heart attacks, a coincidence of timing is not sufficient to prove your case in court.
Moreover, even if something during the surgery caused the heart attack, you would also have to show that there was negligence, or unreasonable carelessness--i.e. that a doctor did something wrong. If the medical team did everything they would normally be expected to do and it just happened that something triggered a heart attack, they would not be liable: liability is based on fault, or doing something wrong. So you have to show fault, or improper care, as well as causation.
The first thing to do is to talk to doctors more and try to understand why this occured. Only if there is some evidenece of doctor (or hospital or clinic, etc.) fault might you have a case.

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