“A wrongful death:” Family that lost loved one to introduce bill to add cameras to operating rooms

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MADISON (WITI) -- An idea was born out of a Waukesha family's tragedy. An unexpected death ignited a 12-year mission for the Ayer family. The family has teamed up with a lawmaker in the hope that major change will soon come to the operating room.

No family is ever prepared for a sudden, unexpected loss.

"Just a vibrant personality. She was the type of lady that could command a room," Wade Ayer, Julie Ayer Rubenzer's brother said.

Julie Ayer Rubenzer

Julie Ayer Rubenzer

September of 2003 was a month that changed the Ayer family forever.

"It was extremely painful. I don`t wish that upon anyone," Wade Ayer said.

38-year-old Julie Ayer Rubenzer, a Waukesha native, was living in Florida. She had gone in for what she thought would be a routine cosmetic surgery, and it turned out to be anything but.

"She said 'Julie went in for a breast implant this morning and they can`t wake her up,'" Julie's dad, Don Ayer said.

The family flew to Florida from Waukesha to be at Julie's side. She was in a coma.

"I went over and took her hand and I said 'Julie, squeeze my hand.' Nothing. And again, I said, 'squeeze my hand.' There was just nothing there," Don Ayer said.

Rubenzer was flown back to Wisconsin and died in late December.

"Her death was not an ordinary death. It was a wrongful death," Don Ayer said.


An investigation revealed Rubenzer had been given a deadly dose of propofol. A report shows when she flat-lined, the doctor waited minutes to give chest compressions, and had an officer manager, not a medical professional check her pulse.

"It is gut-wretching beyond any imagination," Wade Ayer said.

The doctor lost his medical license in Florida, but wasn't criminally charged.

"My sister`s case will go down in medical history as the catalyst that changed it all," Wade Ayer said.

For 12 years, the Ayer family continued to fight -- taking their cause to Madison. Finally, someone paid attention.

21:13 It`s heartbreaking. The passion they have for this -- you can`t help but think 'I want to get involved and help,'" Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) said.

operating room

operating room

Together, Rep. Sinicki and the Ayer family are introducing legislation called the "Julie Ayer Rubenzer Bill." It would allow patients to request a camera in the operating room. That camera would record the entire surgical setting as surgery is performed.

"If we have an actual video of who is coming and going and it is time-stamped and date-stamped, you got some proof right there," Rep. Sinicki said.

"The time has come. Airplaines have them, city buses have them, the grocery stores have them. We`re talking about transparency. I think she`d be very honored to have this in her name. More importantly than that, she`d want this for other people," Wade Ayer said.

On Wednesday, April 22nd, Rep. Sinicki and the Ayer family will announce the bill at the Capitol in Madison.

Julie Ayer Rubenzer

Julie Ayer Rubenzer


  • why

    I feel for her family and friends yet I have to question why beautiful women feel they need to adjust themselves. Society today has people wrapped up believing that they need to make these rash changes to fit in, be attractive. When will people wake up and realize life itself is beautiful!

  • A Yooper

    There are good Doctors and not so good Doctors. Every profession has the best and worst. If Dr. is doing breast enlargements odds are he washed out of a useful surgery program somewhere. If you you die in a vain surgical procedure.. TFB.

  • wtf

    And yooper I was at a reputible hospital, routine cardiac proceduree a not so good surgeon….I had no diea

  • Brian Lannoye

    “The doctor lost his medical license in Florida, but was not criminally charged.” Yes, because what he did was incompetent. Not criminal. You know, like the reporting. It’s incompetent, but it’s not criminal. Too bad journalists aren’t required to be licensed.

  • Katrina

    Whether the guy who performed the surgical procedure was considered “incompetent” or not, in my opinion his consequences/punishment should have been much more than just losing your license in Florida. You can’t just do a procedure on someone and kill them/let them die and then ….what…..ooops…..? Are you being serious? Like how insane. We are talking about someone who LOST their LIFE because of someone else….that’s huge. And of course women feel the need to “adjust themselves”….are you living in the same society? The media constantly feeds messages to women all the time about how they “need” to appear absolutely perfect…..do you know who the role models nowadays? Nikki Minaj has under gone the knife almost in every area of her body…..all im saying is, this is insane and completely sad and that I am totally in agreement about having a detailed camera in any operation/surgery room for security, safety, confirmation and rights……it just makes way more sense. No one should have to lose their life because of any one else for any reason at all…..it just goes without saying…..like why didn’t they have cameras in there to begin with?

Comments are closed.