Fox News reported the malpractice suffered by Dr. Lance Lester, a prominent heart surgeon at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, Fla. His family is suing the hospital where he was chief of cardiovascular surgery over claims that staff gave him a lethal dose of painkillers following back surgery that left him in a vegetative state. Dr. Lance Lester suffered a severe brain injury and now can’t walk or talk due to the negligence. But the hospital, where Lester was employed for over 30 years, told the news station that the family’s claims are false.
The $15 million lawsuit contends that following Lester’s May 9 back surgery, he was given several medications and narcotics for pain relief, including a patient-controlled pump to deliver Dilaudid intravenously.
“Since Dr. Lester was still in pain from the surgery, Dr. Jusino, a pain management physical on the medical staff at JFK Medical Center, ordered that Dr. Lester be given more Dilaudid,” the lawsuit claims. “Dr. Jusino ordered a 4 mg dose of Dilaudid to be injected directly through his I.V., in addition to the maximum limit dose of up to 3 mg of Dilaudid that he was already receiving through his PCA pump and to increase the PCA maximum limit dose to 4 mg per hour.”
The lawsuit contends that a nurse, Joanna Robinson, administered the painkiller in one dose and “left before monitoring the effects of this massive dose of Dilaudid on Dr. Lester.” It alleges that within minutes, Lester went into respiratory arrest, but that staff failed to respond quickly and that more than 15 minutes passed before Narcan, an opioid antidote, was administered to reverse the effects of Dilaudid.
“The window of opportunity to rescue Dr. Lester was lost,” the lawsuit claims.
Lester’s family told WPBF 25 that he had sought the surgery so that he could play with his 2-year-old grandson pain-free. Lindsay Stortz, Lester’s daughter who is a nurse in North Carolina, told the Palm Beach Post that even though he was friendly with top surgeons at the University of Miami’s health center, he insisted he had the procedure done at JFK Medical Center.
Stortz said the hospital also failed to notify the Florida Department of Health.