The family of a Florida mom left in a coma following routine surgery are suing the hospital for millions of dollars in damages, alleging employees ‘failed to monitor her breathing and wake her after the operation’.
Toshuua Hughes, 46, underwent an outpatient hysterectomy at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach in June 2017, and has been non-responsive ever since.
Hughes – who is a mother-of-five – now resides in a facility for residents with traumatic brain injuries and has already accrued more than $4 million of medical bills.
Her husband of 23 years has now been tasked with taking care of their five children.
‘Toshuua will never be able to take care of herself’ her family’s attorney, David Carter, told TCPalm on Thursday.
‘She will always be dependent on others for every need, from feeding, to turning, to every aspect of care in her life.’
Carter believes a jury could award the family more than $100 million in compensation.
Toshuua Hughes, 46, underwent an outpatient hysterectomy at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach back in June 2017, and has been in a state of non-responsive wakefulness ever since
Hughes is pictured prior to the ‘routine outpatient surgery’ which she had in June 2017
Hughes’ husband of 23 years has now been tasked with taking care of their five children. The couple are pictured with two of their sons in happier times
Carter claims medical negligence caused Hughes to sustain permanent brain damage. He also alleges employees tried to cover up mistakes made following the mom’s procedure.
Hughes’ anesthesiologist, Dr. Donnie J. Konovsky, is named in the lawsuit filed against the hospital.
‘Konovsky gave too much sedating medication during the operation and not enough reversal agent, which caused her to not fully emerge from anesthesia in the typical timeframe,’ Carter alleges.
Hughes – who is a mother-of-five – now resides in facility for residents with traumatic brain injuries and has already accrued more than $4 million of medical bills. Her husband of 23 years has now been tasked with taking care of their five children
Hughes and her husband are seen with two of their sons and a family friend
Two nurses, who have not been publicly named, are also accused of failing to respond in an appropriate manner when it became obvious that Hughes was not waking up.
‘We know that for approximately six minutes after she arrived in the recovery room, based on hard data from the monitoring equipment, Toshuua Hughes was not breathing,’ Carter told TCPalm.
‘No interventions were done; no CPR was initiated until about six minutes after she arrived.’
The Indian River Medical Center was taken over in 2019 by the Cleveland Clinic. The facility is now known as Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital (pictured)
The lawsuit sensationally alleges that medical records were also ‘altered to minimize or shield the negligent care she received’.
Carter told the TCPalm that Konovsky, or someone who was using his credentials, accessed Hughes’ medical records the day after her surgery and removed evidence which showed she had ‘zero breaths per minute in the operating room record’.
‘By hiring a computer forensic expert, we were able to go into the hospital’s underlying computer data and we were able to show exactly what changes were made and when,’ he posited.
Konovsky no longer works as an anesthesiologist in the state of Florida. His lawyer refused to comment.
The Indian River Medical Center was taken over in 2019 by the Cleveland Clinic. The facility is now known as Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital.
‘This case was brought prior to Indian River Medical Center joining the Cleveland Clinic health system,’ a hospital spokesman said in a statement to TCPalm.
‘Because there is currently litigation, Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital cannot comment on specifics related to the case.’
A trial is set to commence in October.
In the meantime, Hughes’ husband, Rodrick Phinizee, is tasked with taking sole care of their five children.
In a Facebook post on Mother’s Day he heartbreakingly wrote: ‘I’ve been a Mom and a Dad ever since the Devil tried to take out my wife’.
He added in a separate post: ‘I cried A LOT in the beginning. I started talking to GOD and I got stronger as the days went by knowing I had her and the kids to care of! Thank YOU GOD for everything that you are doing!!’
The Hughes family’s attorney, David Carter, spoke with TCPalm about the suit