Man Sues Over Loss of Vision and Alleged Torture After Waking Up During Cataract Surgery

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Hector L. Alonso of Mississippi is suing doctors at Tulane University Medical Center in New Orleans for medical malpractice after he woke up during cataract surgery and lost vision in one eye.

When he woke up, Alonso said, he could see Shehab E. Ebrahim, M.D., operating on the eye and he asked him to stop the surgery. Then medical personnel allegedly put tape over Alonso's mouth to quiet him while they continued the procedure. He also claims to have swallowed his own tooth after it was knocked out by staff who held him down and “tortured” him. The procedure was unsuccessful, and Alonso suffered a complete loss of vision in his right eye.

An estimated 30,000 Americans wake up during surgery each year, according to a 2008 study by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Called anesthesia awareness, 1 or 2 in every 1,000 patients wake up during surgery. While some report only fleeting memories of things they heard or saw, others describe excruciating pain and terror. Some are paralyzed, feeling intense pain but unable to move, and afterwards suffer post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience.

Alonso filed suit against Tulane University Medical Center, Columbia HCA of New Orleans Inc., Franklin Rawlings M.D. and Shehab A. Ebrahim M.D. in the 24th Judicial Court in January. Damages of an undisclosed amount are being sought for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability, medical expense, and destruction of earning capacity to name a few.

Source: Louisiana Record