The Times West Virginian

Local News

May 3, 2008

UPDATE — Settlement reached in suit over anesthesia

BECKLEY — The family of a Beckley man who killed himself after he was left conscious during surgery but unable to move or speak has settled a wrongful death lawsuit.

The settlement was confidential, according to Raleigh County Circuit Court documents.

Sherman Sizemore, a former coal miner and Baptist minister, was admitted to Raleigh General Hospital on Jan. 19, 2006, for surgery aimed at diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain, according to the lawsuit filed in March 2007.

The lawsuit claims Sizemore was administered paralyzing drugs to prevent his muscles from jerking and twitching during the surgery, but he wasn’t given general anesthesia to render him unconscious until 29 minutes into the procedure — 16 minutes after the first cut into his abdomen.

The lawsuit, filed against Raleigh Anesthesia Associates by two of his daughters, alleged Sizemore was never told that he hadn’t been properly anesthetized, and was tormented by doubts about whether his memories were real.

The lawsuit said in the two weeks after his surgery, Sizemore became a different person. He couldn’t sleep, refused to be left alone, suffered nightmares and complained people were trying to bury him alive.

On Feb. 2, 2006, Sizemore killed himself. His family says he had no history of psychological distress before his surgery.

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