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Patient's death results in jury verdict, awareness campaign

It happens all too often. A patient enters the hospital for a routine surgery but doesn't leave alive. The reasons can be complex but sometimes are deceptively simple. In fact, a study conducted at John Hopkins University found that more than 250,000 patients die annually in America because of preventable medical errors.

Some patients should never have been cleared for a surgical procedure in the first place. Maybe they weighed too much or had already experienced problems with anesthesia during a prior surgery.

Still others might have properly been given a green light to proceed with their surgeries, yet a medical professional still dropped the ball. Such was the case for one patient who died after a routine knee surgery due to being unmonitored in the recovery room.

Helen Marie Bousquet, 62, was a producer and a writer of both stories and songs, as well as being the mother of Brian Evans, a singer who used to open for the late comedian Joan Rivers. She entered the Holy Family Hospital in Methuen for surgery on her knee.

Although Bousquet had previously been diagnosed with sleep apnea, medical professionals left her unmonitored in the recovery room after she was dosed with the opioid morphine. The drug slows breathing in patients without sleep apnea and can be fatal in patients with the condition unless they are very closely monitored.

Yet, despite having been diagnosed with the condition by the same doctor who cleared her for surgery, she was left alone to die.

Her son filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Lawrence at the Essex County Superior Court. A jury returned a guilty verdict last month against the hospital owned by Steward Health Care and the nurse in charge of her care. One defendant settled with the plaintiff before the case went to trial.

As a result of his mother's death, Evans started a campaign that brought attention to the complications of surgery on sleep apnea patients.

If you or a loved one faces a similar situation, it's important to understand your legal rights to pursue compensation for your damages and injuries.

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