Witness Says Doctor Slept As Child Died

An anesthesiologist appeared to doze off during an ear operation in which the 8-year-old patient died, a surgical technician testified.

“I saw him slumped in the chair as if he were sleeping over a 20-minute period of time - at intervals,” Karen Larson said Thursday at a preliminary hearing for Dr. Joseph James Verbrugge.

Verbrugge, 55, is charged with manslaughter in the 1993 death of Richard C. Leonard. The anesthesiologist is accused of failing to monitor the boy’s condition, causing him to die of carbon dioxide poisoning.

Verbrugge has said he merely had his eyes closed while listening to a monitor’s tones reflecting pulse rate and oxygen saturation.

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