Who is Carlos Rojas? Man's family awarded $21M after routine knee surgery left him in vegetative state
DALLAS, TEXAS: A Texas jury has awarded more than $20 million to the family of Carlos David Castro Rojas, who will spend the rest of his life in a vegetative state. Rojas, a Venezuelan immigrant to the US, suffered a leg injury in 2017 and was sent urgently to a local hospital for treatment.
KDFW-TV reports that a Dallas jury awarded $21 million in damages to Rojas' family after finding that a botched anesthetic technique left Rojas, who was 27 at the time of the procedure, in a permanent vegetative condition. Rojas had taken a bad fall from a ladder while setting up lights for a Christmas tree at work. He underwent surgery at Baylor University Medical Center to treat a fractured left tibia. The procedure was expected to last only two hours.
Rojas's mother, Wilda, addressed the jury in a video. "The day before, he told me, 'no mom, it's just my knee, and it is a simple operation,'" she said. Rojas, however, experienced hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a brain injury brought on by a deficiency in blood and oxygen to the brain. After the operation, he didn't wake up.
Bruce Steckler, the Rojas family's lawyer, stated that it "appears he suffered low blood pressure during the course of his procedure cutting off oxygen to his brain. When you don't have blood to your brain, it dies." The Rojas family's lawsuit claims that while his doctor was supervising four registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, who were simultaneously caring for other patients, his condition deteriorated.
Steckler stated, "As a result, it is our position while that may be good business for Anesthesia Partners, it is not good medicine, because there is no way an anesthesiologist can supervise that many CRNAs at one time. I think patients need to be apprised up front that they have a choice to get an anesthesiologist who has 4 years of medical school, 3 years of training and board certified, rather than a CRNA who may have a nursing degree and extra year of training."
In a statement to KDFW-TV, US Anesthesia Partners of Texas, who employed the surgeon and the CRNAs who assisted in the procedure, defended their staff. "We received the jury's verdict, and while we respect the civil justice system, we believe strongly that our clinicians provided the patient with excellent care," the statement read.
Rojas' mother claimed that she would not remove her son's life support even after being convinced to do so. Rojas, who will require care around the clock for the rest of his life and has the mental capacity of a 1-year-old, nonetheless clearly shows signs of joy when he is with his mother. "I will take care of my son. He was everything to me," Wilda said.