A Casper woman and her husband have sued the Wyoming Medical Center for $22 million in a malpractice suit, according to Natrona County District Court records.

Margo and Paul Sabec allege the hospital, Citadel Anesthesia Consultants, P.C., and others caused permanent and severe disabilities after surgery for a shinbone fracture in October 2014, according to the lawsuit filed by Bryan Ulmer III and Emily Rankin of the Jackson-based Spence Law Firm.

The injuries caused a loss of consortium between the wife and husband; emotional and suffering; medical expenses; loss of enjoyment of life; permanent disability, disfigurement, embarrassment and humiliation; loss of earnings; and other damages, according to the lawsuit.

Medical Center spokeswoman Kristy Bleizeffer said in an email the hospital does not comment on pending litigation. The hospital has not filed a formal answer to the complaint as of today.

According to the lawsuit, Sabec injured fractured her upper tibia on Oct. 10, 2014. She entered the Wyoming Medical Center for surgery on Oct. 16.

As part of the anesthesia process, a laryngeal mask airway was placed in her throat and left in it 31 minutes after the surgery was over.

The anesthesiologist used a smaller mask than one appropriate for Sabec's weight. Masks that are too small for the throat can have their cuffs inflated to create a better seal. But instructions for the mask warn, "never overinflate the cuff."

Manufacturers of the mask also state it should not be used in patients who have a history of gastric reflux or who are obese. Sabec had both conditions.

"Immediately after surgery, Plaintiff was unable to speak louder than a whisper, had trouble breathing, aspirated liquids and solids, and had a persistent dry throat," according to the lawsuit.

Sabec reported these symptoms to hospital nurses before she was discharged, and those symptoms persisted. The anesthesiologist did not follow up with her about the complications, according to the lawsuit.

She was diagnosed with permanent paralysis of her left vocal cord, which limited the use of her voice. As a result, her employment was terminated as senior counsel for the Beatty & Wozniak law firm in Casper in May 2015.

In October 2016, Sabec filed claim with the Wyoming Medical Review Panel Act, which dismissed the claim in January after the hospital and other defendants waived their right to the proceedings.

In the claim filed with the Medical Review Panel, Sabec's attorneys wrote she is seeking these amounts for damages past and future:

  • Medical expenses: $2 million.
  • Pain and suffering: $1 million.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: $2 million.
  • Disability: $1 million.
  • Disfigurement: $1 million.
  • Emotional pain and distress: $2 million.
  • Lost wages: $6 million.
  • Diminished earning capacity: $6 million.
  • Loss of consortium: $1 million.