LONE TREE, Colo. — Dan Scholle remembers feeling optimistic the day he was wheeled into the operating room for elective back surgery.
“I was happy. I took a selfie because I was going to go get this fixed and eight to 12 weeks later, I’d be back to work,” he said.
Eight hours later, he looked like a completely different man.
“I know I coded on the table during surgery. I was pretty close to dying,” Scholle said.
Scholle underwent surgery for degenerative disc disease. It was a surgery recommended to him by Dr. Michael Rauzzino, the chief of neurosurgery at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree.
“He was so confident about what he could do, I didn’t even think about getting a second opinion,” Scholle said.
However, in retrospect, he wishes he would have.
Partway through the operation, the lawsuit alleges surgeons accidentally tore a nickel-sized hole in one of Scholle’s veins. He began to bleed profusely, hemorrhaging his body’s entire volume of blood three to five times over.
It’s a problem that only grew worse when the hospital ran out of blood, according to Scholle’s attorney. The hospital also allegedly didn’t have the right sized stent needed to plug the bleeding.
The lawsuit claims the hospital put out a call for help and says a stent was helicoptered to Sky Ridge from UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. Another was driven from Aurora Medical Center. Blood was also allegedly delivered to Sky Ridge from multiple locations throughout the Denver metro by police escort, according to the lawsuit.
“In my 22 years of experience, this is one of the most egregious things I’ve seen,” said Isobel Thomas, Scholle’s attorney.
Sky Ridge Medical Center disputes the claim the hospital ran out of blood. It sent FOX31 the following statement:
“Patient safety is a high priority at Sky Ridge, and we met all of the blood needs of this patient while in our care. The Sky Ridge surgical and lab teams were heroic in their efforts to save the life of this patient, and we stand by their exceptional teamwork and professionalism.”
Meanwhile, back at Sky Ridge, Scholle’s world went dark. He went into cardiac arrest and ended up in a coma.
“I was hallucinating pretty bad. During the coma, I had these weird dreams you can’t wake up from, seeing cockroaches running across the tubes going in and out of me,” said Scholle. “I was in intensive care for 100 days. I set a record.”
Scholle dodged death, but he’s not longer the man he once was. While in a coma, Scholle’s organs started to fail and his kidneys were permanently damaged.
“It was just like every time another doctor came in, there was something wrong with me. It was so bad, they had to do surgeries in my intensive care unit room,” he said.
The lawsuit also alleges laparoscopic pads were left inside Scholle for five days, which ultimately resulted in a massive infection.
Scholle ended up losing most of the toes on his right foot and has difficulty walking.
“All the toes on my right foot were back. If I walk without braces, I walk like a toddler,” he explained.
Scholle now deeply regrets trusting the advice of his surgeon and wishes he would have explored other options.
“I was definitely oversold,” he said.
The 53-year-old Navy veteran can no longer work.
“My wife has to take care of me. It’s just kind of upsetting,” he said.
In addition to Sky Ridge Medical Center, the FOX31 Problem Solvers also reached out to Doug Wolanske, Dr. Michael Rauzzino’s attorney. He sent FOX31 this statement:
“Dr. Rauzzino denies all allegations of negligence and will defend the assertions made against him. His care of Mr. Scholle was reasonable and appropriate.”
The case is slated for trial in October.