Seattle Times

Quantity of Care

3:46 p.m. Feb. 10, 2014.
Talia Goldenberg emerged from the fog of anesthesia. The 23-year-old wiggled her toes. She wagged her feet. Good signs for a patient coming out of spinal surgery.

The doctors at Swedish’s Cherry Hill hospital declared Talia’s surgery a success. Her surgeon noted there had been no complications and told her parents it had been “perfect.” The medical team talked about perhaps presenting the case so others could learn from the work.

It was just the news Talia and her parents had sought when they traveled from Oregon to Seattle for a promising elective surgery at the hands of one of the nation’s most prominent neurosurgeons, Dr. Johnny Delashaw. He was a star at Swedish, celebrated in ads for his workload of 350 spine procedures per year, along with many additional surgeries for aneurysms and tumors.

That volume of cases is meant to reassure prospective Swedish patients. After all, who wouldn’t want a surgeon who has seen everything?

But as the anesthesia faded in Talia’s system, she realized that not everything was perfect, despite the confident assurances of her surgical team.

Click here to read the rest of The Seattle Times story. And read Part 2, The O.R. Factory.