New details are coming to light about the power failure at the University of New Mexico Hospital on August 11, 2011. The incident resulted in a loss of power in an operating room where a woman was having heart surgery performed. The surgery was aborted, and the woman ultimately died from cardiogenic shock. Last year, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the hospital on the woman's behalf. Now, the hospital has filed suit against three contractors who performed an electrical upgrade on the hospital in 2009.
"No Backup Generator Kicked In"
According to an ABQ Journal report, it was over an hour into Kathleen Williams' coronary bypass surgery at UNMH when the power to the operating room went out. Since the power interruption resulted from a rooftop circuit breaker problem, and not a larger power outage, the hospital's back-up generator did not go into effect, and the lights and most machines supporting Ms. Williams were without power for a full 10 minutes. After the power was restored, the operating team decided to abort the operation and sewed Ms. Williams back up. Unfortunately, the shock of the surgery was too much for Ms. Williams to handle, and she died four days later.
Who is Responsible for Ms. Williams' Death?
Last August, Ms. Williams' family filed a New Mexico malpractice lawsuit against UNMH, alleging that the hospital breached the standard of care that they owed Ms. Williams. The suit alleges that the hospital failed to maintain the systems that are critical for the operating room to function, and this malpractice resulted in Ms. Williams' death. Since the family has filed suit against the hospital, the hospital has filed a separate lawsuit against three contractors that installed an electrical upgrade in 2009. The hospital may divert some responsibility from themselves to the contractors, but whether the contractors or the hospital made the ultimate mistake has no effect on the hospital's duty to Ms. Williams.