THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. - A Thief River Falls couple is suing Altru Health System after complications from a vascular surgery left a man blind and deaf.

Robert and Annette Klade filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical provider in U.S. District Court in July in Grand Forks. The pair argues a surgeon and an anesthesiologist employed by Altru were negligent in their treatment of Robert Klade and are demanding more than $75,000 in damages.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Altru filed its response in August, denying the Klades' claims and arguing its medical staff followed proper procedures and acted appropriately and reasonably.

The lawsuit was filed about two and a half years after Robert Klade had an elective surgery to repair an open aortic aneurysm in mid-December 2012 at Altru Hospital, according to the civil complaint filed by the Klades through their Minneapolis-based attorney Brandon Thompson.

The complaint notes Klade was operated on by Dr. Scott Charette and was administered heparin before and throughout the surgery.

The only complication noted in Charette's operative report, according to the complaint, was that Klade lost 3,200 ml of blood during surgery. The complaint also notes Klade's heparin "was not reversed following the surgery."

Klade was taken to a recovery room until he was transferred a couple hours later to the critical care unit with hypotension, or abnormally low blood pressure, as noted by Dr. Robert Childs, the anesthesiologist.

The doctors noted signs that Klade may have been bleeding internally and decided to take him back into the operating room about two and a half hours after he was placed in the critical care unit.

Charette found blood filling Klade's abdomen, but could not find a specific source of the bleeding, according to the complaint. Klade was returned to the critical care unit, where he remained in critical condition on a ventilator and heavily sedated.

For several weeks, the complaint says, Klade was confused and disoriented, not following orders from family, staff or doctors.

In mid-January, Klade became stable enough to be seen by physical therapy and after an examination, they found he was entirely blind and almost entirely deaf.

The complaint blames Altru, saying its doctors Charette and Childs were negligent in failing to reverse their patient's heparin following surgery and failing to order repeat ACT - activated clotting time - tests.

The Klades also allege the doctors did not appropriately manage Robert Klade's post-operative hypotension.

In the complaint, the Klades say they are seeking damages for the pain, suffering, disability, mental anguish, emotional distress and loss of prior enjoyment Robert Klade has experienced as a result of the surgery and his loss of vision and hearing.

They also ask for compensation for medical expenses and costs of rehabilitative care as well as Robert Klade's loss of earnings, income, employment or business opportunities and a loss of earning capacity.

Annette Kalde is seeking damages for the loss of her husband's society, companionship, comfort, protection and consortium.

Charette has been licensed in general surgery in North Dakota since 1994 and Childs in anesthesiology since 2011, according to the North Dakota Medical Board of Examiners.

The parties have a hearing at 9 a.m. on Sept. 16.