Kelley Uustal Trial Attorney
November 29, 2012

Negligent Anesthesiologist Faces Disciplinary Action in the Case of Dale Whyte

The anesthesiologist in charge during the manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) procedure that left Dale Whyte in a vegetative state is now facing disciplinary action.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that the Florida Health Department believes Dr. Thomas J. Rodenberg “kept inadequate and inaccurate medical records and failed to properly respond when Dale Whyte went into cardiac arrest in a Pompano Beach operating room in 2008.”

Although it’s expected that Dr. Rodenberg will be issued a six-month suspension and required to pay a $40,000 fine, Dale’s family doesn’t think this punishment is enough, and we agree. Dr. Rodenberg’s sketchy past, which includes two patients who died under similar circumstances as those that landed Dale in a coma, points to a pattern of negligence that can’t be ignored. Additionally, the Department of Health (DOH) had previously disciplined Dr. Rodenberg for several serious infractions, including using faulty equipment, failing to keep track of a patient’s vital signs, and failing to maintain medical records to justify the course of treatment.

During the manipulation, Dale was hooked up to a machine that was keeping track of his oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and heart rate. The DOH investigation found that a few minutes after the manipulation began, several alarms went off, indicating issues with all three readouts; Dale’s blood pressure was dropping, his oxygen was at zero, and his heartrate was at a dangerous low of 33 beats per minute. Rather than stop the MUA or check on these vital signs, Dr. Rodenberg silenced each alarm and ignored the nurses when they asked him to address Dale’s deteriorating condition. According to the DOH, the nurse on duty eventually went against the doctor’s orders and started performing CPR on Dale while the medical center’s CEO called 911. 

Paramedics were able to stabilize Dale in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Once there, Dale remained stable but unresponsive. He was 33 years old. He had three daughters ages 10, 3, and 1. He left his fiancée of five years that morning and he never returned.

Original story on Sun Sentinel:

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