A fall from the surgical table

An unfortunate event in the OR, and the physicians in the room – two residents – are sued. Was it their fault?

Moments after undergoing surgery to replace a broken hip, an 86-year-old Dorchester woman fell from an operating room table at Boston Medical Center, causing a massive head injury that killed her a week later, her family said in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

[The patient] fell, buttocks first, through a gap in an orthopedic surgical table on Oct. 6 after a nurse removed a safety strap around her torso as medical staff prepared to transfer her to a hospital bed, according to an investigative report by the state Department of Public Health.

[The patient], who was still under anesthesia and had a breathing tube in her mouth, struck her head on the floor, fracturing her skull and causing internal bleeding, said the Health Department report. She died Oct. 13 despite a second operation that removed part of her skull to relieve pressure from the bleeding.