Parents Sue for Wrongful Death of Teen While Under General Anesthesia

In March 2008, 18-year old Stephanie Kuleba of Boca Raton, Florida went in for breast augmentation surgery. However, during surgery she suffered and died from malignant hyperthermia, a condition in which a person goes into cardiac arrest from a reaction to certain drugs used for general anesthesia.

On Wednesday, September 23, according to the Palm Beach Post, Joanne and Thomas Kuleba, parents of Stephanie, have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Steven Schuster and other doctors for failure to properly treat their daughter. The Kulebas are seeking damages and calling for a ban on general anesthesia being administered at outpatient centers because they believe that outpatient centers are ill-equipped to deal with emergencies.


The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that there were 1,669,026 plastic procedures performed in 2008, of which 307,230 were procedures for breast augmentation; by far the most popular plastic surgery procedure. Moreover, teenagers 18-19 years old accounted for 8,983 of these procedures, about three percent of total patients. An ASPS story cited a 2004 study showing that less than one fourth percent of office-based surgeries resulted in death. Though this number seems small, the fact that kids are now electing to have plastic surgery at a young age shows that this is a matter of growing concern.

There is no doubt that advances in technology and developments in plastic procedures in recent years have made it safer, less expensive, and in some cases less invasive and with a shorter recovery time. However, as this story shows, even surgeries which by today’s standards are considered “routine” can have severe consequences. Despite the fact that Florida is filled with professional, reputable and distinguished doctors, things can go wrong and there are always risks involved when you go under the knife.

There are many precautions you can take before undergoing surgery. The most important step is to talk to your doctor about risks involved, learn as much as you can about the procedure, and be sure to notify the doctor of any conditions or health risks you have before undergoing any kind of surgery.