Monday, February 07, 2011

Kansas Plumbing Company Settles Nitrous Oxide Mix Up Lawsuit

Austin Stone, who was injured in a medical gas accident one year ago, is now a student at the Kansas State School for the Blind. Stone credits his athletic training and his love of music for helping him adjust to his circumstances. He hopes to take some speaking classes and become a motivational speaker.

What a horrible story.

The family of a 20-year-old Tonganoxie High School graduate who suffered brain damage during a 2009 dental procedure in Lawrence reached a $3 million settlement Thursday with a Lawrence plumbing company.

But legal action is pending against several defendants, including the city of Lawrence, in the case that was filed on behalf of Austin Stone. A trial is scheduled for November.

The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Stone and his guardians, Tara Passmore and Lance Stone, alleges that oxygen and nitrous oxide lines were crossed during design and construction of Dr. Kirk Vincent’s office at 4811 Bob Billings Parkway.

In a settlement agreement, Action Plumbing, which installed the medical gas lines, denied liability. Chief Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild approved the settlement in court Thursday.

According to testimony and court records, a major portion of the $3 million will be used to help pay for Stone’s future care and expenses. Stone was in a coma after the incident, and he is now legally blind and has other health issues.

So, what happened?

The lawsuit alleges:

Stone visited Vincent’s office on March 30, 2009, to have four wisdom teeth removed. During the visit, Vincent tried to sedate Stone with what he believed was a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen.

When Stone did not become sedated, the doctor administered Fentanyl and Diazepam, and then Propofol. At that point Stone’s heart rate decreased, and Vincent administered what he thought to be 100 percent oxygen, but it was pure nitrous oxide.

Emergency medical workers were called because Stone eventually stopped breathing, and at Lawrence Memorial Hospital he was diagnosed with brain damage because of oxygen deprivation. Stone was eventually transferred to Kansas University Hospital and other institutes for rehabilitation.

According to testimony Thursday, Stone still suffers from significant neurological problems.

This is a horrible tragedy and I am very surprised this case continues to linger in the courts. But, you know, it is all about the money now.

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