WINCHESTER — A man whose father died during a spinal procedure is suing the physician who performed it.
The lawsuit, which seeks $7 million, was filed in Winchester Circuit Court on Friday on behalf of the estate of Richard J. Hart Sr. and his son Richard J. Hart Jr. It accuses Dr. Michael Joseph Poss of ordering too many injections of the sedative propofol for Hart and then failing to perform CPR and call 911 in a timely manner. Poss didn’t return calls or an email on Monday.
Hart, a 78-year-old Frederick County resident, was pronounced dead at Winchester Medical Center on Feb. 18, shortly after the procedure at the Virginia Brain and Spine Center at 1818 Amherst St., according to the lawsuit written by attorney Les S. Bowers. The lawsuit didn’t say why Hart needed the procedure, and Bowers didn’t return calls on Monday.
The lawsuits states Hart was given four injections of propofol, a total of 20 cubic centimeters, in 11 minutes leading to an overdose. The last injection of 5 cc contradicted the recommendations of the manufacturer and the American Society of Anesthesiology, according to Bowers, who called it a “gross violation of the standard of care.” He said Poss then left Hart with a nurse to treat another patient despite Hart being unstable.
Bowers also said in the lawsuit that there are time discrepancies between the Spine Center and Winchester Emergency Communications Center on when 911 was called after Hart’s pulse dropped and he began struggling to breathe. The lawsuit states 911 wasn’t called until 10 minutes after the time recorded by the Spine Center, and CPR wasn’t done until emergency medical technicians arrived.
Bowers said in the lawsuit that Poss’ documentation that CPR began at 2:57 p.m. was “demonstrably false” and that an EMT report from the Winchester Fire Department contradicts it.
“When staff was asked if there was a pulse, they answered no and when asked why CPR wasn’t being performed, they stated they guess they can do that,” Bowers wrote in the lawsuit, quoting from the report. “CPR was [then] started.”
Bowers attributed Hart’s death to “gross medical negligence” by Poss. “Mr. Hart would not have died on Feb. 18, 2019, had the defendants [promptly] and appropriately evaluated, treated, diagnosed and intervened [over] his condition,” Bowers said in the lawsuit.
Hart, a husband and father of five, was vice president of labor relations and human resources at Manhattan Construction Group, in Naples, Fla., according to his obituary. “His greatest passion was spending time with his children and grandchildren,” the obituary said.