Jury finds Laser Spine Institute liable for patient's death; patient's family awarded $20M


After less than 90 minutes of deliberation, a Chester County, Pa., jury found Wayne, Pa.-based Laser Spine Institute and anesthesiologist Glenn Rubenstein, MD, liable for a patient's death following spine surgery, The Legal Intelligencer reports.

Here's what you need to know.

1. In January 2014, Sharon Kimble underwent spinal surgery at the Institute to treat her chronic lower back pain. The prosecutors argued Dr. Rubenstein discharged Ms. Kimble prematurely with excessive amounts of anesthetic dilaudid in her system.

2. Ms. Kimble passed away a few hours after being discharged. The plaintiff argued the Laser Spine Instituted needed to continuing monitoring Ms. Kimble instead of discharging her.

3. Prosecutors alleged the Laser Spine Institute discharged Ms. Kimble to free up a bed at the surgery center to allow another physician to begin a procedure.

4. Ms. Kimble was taking narcotics prior to undergoing surgery to treat her chronic pain. The Institute instructed her to take the medications up until her procedure, including on the day of her procedure.

A pretrial memo noted Ms. Kimble received six times the amount of dilaudid than initially ordered. Despite that, she was still discharged two hours following the procedure.

5. Defendants alleged the treatment and high dosage of dilaudid were medically necessary due to Ms. Kimble's tolerance to pain medication.

Fellow anesthesiologist James Noone, MD, testified for the defense alleging Ms. Kimble's husband did not properly monitor her after the surgery.

6. The jury found the Laser Spine Institute 65 percent liable and Dr. Rubenstein 35 percent liable. Additionally, the jury awarded $20 million to Ms. Kimble's family.

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