A San Diego patient who woke up during surgery has filed a lawsuit against his fentanyl-addicted doctor who allegedly failed to properly anesthetize him.
Randy Dalo, a fishing boat captain, said he suffers from recurring nightmares of waking up from the back surgery he had done in 2017, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Dalo contends that he was not given the proper dosage to sleep through the surgery by anesthesiologist Dr. Bradley Hay, who was found passed-out in the bathroom with his pants down surrounded by needles containing opioids hours after the operation.
Along with Hay, who surrendered his medical license in 2018, the lawsuit targets the UC San Diego Medical Center and staff members for allegedly covering up the incident.
Dalo, who needed back surgery from years of strain on sportfishing boats in San Diego, said the surgery had taken a great toll on his physical and mental health.
Although he was sure he woke up in the middle of surgery, his wife, Karen, a nurse at the hospital, dispelled his fears.
Karen told the Union-Tribune that she personally picked out the team that performed surgery on her husband, but unbeknownst to her, the anesthesiologist was replaced by Hay at the last minute.
According to court records, Hay began abusing fentanyl in 2003 when he was just a resident at UCSD, stealing the addictive opioid and injecting himself in the bathrooms.
In 2008, his colleagues had found him high while on duty in the hospital, and he was referred to a three-month treatment period before returning that November.
Although he remained sober until 2014, the records show he began stealing and getting high on fentanyl again in the hospital by April 2016.
In a 2019 deposition, Hay admitted he was using the drug five to eight times a day while in the hospital.
Dalo’s lawyer, Eugene Iredale, accused Hay of stealing fentanyl that was meant to be used on patients and falsifying records to show all of it was given during the procedures.
Iredale claimed it was this practice that led to Dalo waking up in the middle of his surgery, which resulted in arguments with his wife and scaring the man off from getting the second operation he needs for his back.
UCSD contends that Dalo was given the right amount of anesthesia by Hay and that former chief of anesthesiology Dr. Gerard Manecke Jr. and anesthesiology nurse Tammy Nodler ‘in no way contributed to the injuries.’
‘We are deeply sorry that a former member of our team violated hospital policies and standards, our trust, and the trust of his patients and co-workers,’ the hospital said in a statement.
Representatives for the hospital said they could not comment on an ongoing case.
Dalo said that while he was insistent that he woke up during surgery, he initially dropped the idea when it led to arguments with his wife.
In the months after their fighting, Karen began to probe Manecke and Nodler about her husband’s operation, where she learned that Hay had a ‘breakdown’ after the procedure.
When she learned of Hay’s license suspension in November 2018, Karen told the Union-Tribune she came to the horrifying conclusion that her husband was always telling the truth.
Iredale, who will be representing the couple in court, said the hospital faces a reckoning for not disclosing the fact that Hay had a drug addiction.
During the time of Hay’s relapse, he cared for about 800 patients, Iredale said.
‘They’ve just resisted acknowledging what happened was wrong, and accept responsibility for it,’ he told the Union-Tribune.