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Anesthesiologist Linked to Deaths in Surgery

Associated Press

An anesthesiologist accused of killing an infant by incorrectly administering anesthesia has been linked to other similar incidents, the Stockton Record reported.

Harold Kapen, a resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the April, 1985, death of 7-week-old Marcus Dupree Miller at Dameron Hospital, was the anesthesiologist for a tonsillectomy that also resulted in death, the Record reported on Sunday.

After the 30-minute operation at Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood in 1981, Derek Imamura, 23, suffered a heart attack while still under the effect of the anesthetic, emerged comatose and was pronounced dead nine days later, the paper discovered from court records.

Imamura’s parents filed suit against Kapen, 59, and eventually accepted a $25,000 out-of-court settlement, the paper reported.

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Kapen, the newspaper said, also worked on a cataract operation for 71-year-old Sudie Rockwell in 1982. Her heart stopped during the operation. She survived but requires 24-hour convalescent care because she cannot speak and cannot care for her bodily functions.

Kapen admitted in a court deposition that he gave the woman nearly twice the amount of potassium he should have and administered it too quickly. The family filed a malpractice lawsuit that resulted in a $120,000 settlement, according to the Record. However, Kapen filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in 1983 and did not pay anything, the newspaper said.

The state Bureau of Medical Quality Assurance, which licenses physicians, filed a complaint against Kapen earlier this month accusing him of “gross negligence” in the four cases. The state agency will seek a temporary restraining order to stop Kapen from practicing medicine until a formal license revocation hearing can be held, according to a spokesman.

Kapen, reached by telephone, declined to comment.

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Next month, a trial is scheduled to begin on a lawsuit filed over the death of Cecil Leroy Carr IV, 12. The Carr family’s attorney, Richard J. Massa, filed an affidavit accusing Kapen of injecting Carr with nearly twice the correct amount of fluids during an operation in 1982.


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