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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Patient files malpractice lawsuit claiming she fell from Holy Family operating table during surgery

A woman who claims she fell from an operating table while unconscious during surgery is suing Providence Holy Family Hospital and two doctors for medical malpractice.

The suit alleges that the surgery team failed to safely secure Rochelle Alexander during an appendectomy on April 18, 2014. Her suit claims that caused her prolonged pain and complications to her neck and shoulder.

Listed in the suit are Dr. Mark MacFarlane, a surgeon, and Dr. Michelle Hansen, an anesthesiologist, as well as hospital staff.

Alexander’s attorney, Marcia Meade, said details are scarce because of Washington state law that gives caregivers immunity to discovery or disclosure when medical malpractice is alleged.

“There’s a lot of what happened to her that we’re going to have to use other legal means to find out,” Meade said. “What kind of operating table was it? Who had the controls for the tilting the table? Was it controlled by foot pedal that the surgeon was operating? We don’t know because they haven’t told us.”

Alexander’s daughter was told details of what happened soon after it occurred when hospital staff sought permission from her family to perform testing in order to check whether Alexander was injured from the fall, Meade said. According to her attorney, Alexander slipped and fell from the table while doctors were attempting to tilt it sideways to gain better access to her appendix.

Providence Health & Services, Providence Holy Family Hospital, MacFarlane and Hansen did not return calls seeking comment.

Alexander said she has lasting health issues, specifically in her shoulder and neck area, which were fine before the surgery.

The lawsuit also alleges hospital staff referred to Alexander in a derogatory manner, some even referring to her as the “table lady” and even made reference to her size.

Alexander has not disclosed how much money she is seeking.