When a health care professional does not take proper care and safety, or does an act of gross negligence, the act is termed as a medical malpractice. Unfortunately, all medical malpractice lawsuits come under one general legal umbrella, with no distinction between mistakes and deliberate malpractices. This is so because all health care professionals have a responsibility towards people's lives. The margin of error is so small (the cost being the death of a patient), that they are supposed to take extra care and caution to avoid any cases. When such care or caution is either deliberately or mistakenly not fully undertaken, the results of both medical negligence counts give grave results. Hence, the professional responsibility on these individuals is always greater than any other professionals.
Medical malpractice statistics for all the cases worldwide, show worrying conclusions. In fact, the cases listed below are only a drop in the ocean. Yet, I have tried to list out some of the most interesting ones in the paragraphs below. While some are terrifyingly hilarious (an intended contradiction), please spare a thought for those who have actually gone through the ordeal. After reading some of these, I'd be really surprised if you consciously go under a surgeon's knife. I suggest that all of us make sure that at least one person from our side is in the operation theater, just so they know exactly what was taken out, when they said it was just an appendix!
Types of Medical Malpractices
Before we have a look at some of medical malpractice cases, let us talk about the types of errors a doctor can perform. The first type of medical error that is commonly observed is misdiagnosis of an illness or injury. This results in receiving incorrect medical care or medications that are not related to the actual condition. This may further aggravate the underlying health condition or even lead to new medical complications. Next in line is improper treatment of an injury or ailment. This means the medications prescribed are not related to your illness, procedures to treat an injury are incorrect, etc.
The next type of malpractice case is related to prescription drugs. Patients blindly trust a doctor when it comes to medical drugs. However, one does not know if these drugs are actually the correct drugs for their ailment. Many times, it is important to ask the patient, if he/she suffers from an allergy. If yes, then drugs from the same family of the allergen should be avoid as you never know what may trigger a reaction. Even when the doctor is aware of the allergy or did not ask the patient regarding any possible allergy, and prescribes a medicine that leads to a reaction, it can be assumed as a medical malpractice. Other cases may involve improper use of implants, prosthetics or defibrillators. Surgeries that may lead to debilitating consequences, including death of patient, also come under medical negligence case. Let us have a look at some of the medical negligence cases on the part of doctors, that has changed lives of the patients involved forever.
Medical Malpractice Cases and Lawsuits
Most of the medical malpractice cases have resulted in lawsuits, but a lot are still pending or ongoing. For medical malpractice lawyers, these cases were a bumper jackpot, as you will see from the monies involved.
Shove it Up Your ***
When he got injured on the job, 38-year old construction worker was hospitalized for head injury at a downtown New York city hospital. He was subjected to a forced rectal examination despite being very vocally opposed to it. When he moved the law courts against the hospital however, saying that this was an unnecessary invasion for a head injury (for which he had already received stitches), the jury ruled against him. The jury upheld the hospitals contention that the rectal examination was required to check for any spinal injuries. What was more was that the hospital claimed that the examination was stopped half way and so was never effectively completed. Imagine that!
Oops! So Sorry About That Sir
Imagine being deprived of your manhood because someone else made a mistake! Well, that's exactly what happened with these unsuspecting patients... Poor things!
A patient William Morrison was required to wash his penis with a 3 to 5 percent acetic acid solutions, before he undertook some other treatment. The poor, unsuspecting guy, got an acidic surprise in the form of a 72 percent solution (an acid strong enough to burn right through skin). I leave the resultant gory details out of this piece, but I invite you to just imagine. A similar freak incident happened when Mexican doctor Francisco Javier Valentiny Ortiz, was part of a circumcision that went horribly wrong. He inexplicable happened to cut off his patient's entire penis with his surgical instrument. I wonder if it is the doctor's nightmare or the patient's. I am also not sure if there's something called a penis implant.
This case deserves a separate paragraph and makes you want to pass a law making psychiatric evaluation of doctors on a weekly basis, compulsory. Romanian doctor Naum Ciomu, lost his delicate mental balance while operating on a man's testicles. He hacked off the patient's penis and chopped it to mince meat, right in front of his surgical staff. I believe that the patient's medical malpractice lawyers did not do a very good job when the obviously deranged, psycho doc was just given a 120,000 pounds penalty along with a license suspension.
Right Dad, Wrong Mommy
When a Oregon hospital was asked to artificially inseminate Nico Swift with fiancé, Matthew Hayes' sperm, no one thought much of it. Much later, however, it was discovered that a wrong woman had been inseminated with his sperm and God only knew who she was. The hospital authorities refused to disclose her name as her contract had specifically stated an anonymous donor. Poor daddy could never quite know nor see his resultant child (or children!). Two medical malpractice lawsuits are still pending on this case.
Fruitcake Psychologist's Therapy
Harvard Medical School psychologist made a case very tricky, as the medical malpractice attorney could not quite decide who was nuttier, the patient or the doctor. When a student became lonely, he consulted her for therapeutic healing. The 'efficient' doctor readily started treating him for childhood, alcohol and drug abuse, to help him deal with his anxiety, rage and psychopathic tendencies (things he never actually had). His treatment mainly involved reading the doctor's personal diaries, filled with sadomasochistic fantasies and undergoing brainwash treatments, to make him believe that she was his mother. Freaky isn't it? This brainwash entailed him reading her flash card instructions, on her being his lovable mother, at least 10 times a day. The poor guy actually killed himself over what he believed to be incest (since he's actually started believing that she was his mother) and this brought all her dealings into open light. The icing on the cake is that she actually defended her practice as unconventional healing therapies.
Treatment for Diarrhea
Sue Gonzales was hospitalized at a local Dallas hospital, for diarrhea, where they put her on an antibiotic therapy via IV. As the IV was left on too long (the doctor noticed it but did nothing to remove it), the treatment permanently damaged the nerve cells in her ear. The poor lady is now deaf for life. Who would even have thought that diarrhea treatment can result in deafness! Ironically, Texas law makes such cases, economically inviable for medical malpractice attorneys and so this never went to court.
Vagina Reconstruction for More Orgasms
Dr. James Burt thought he was performing a social favor on his patients, when he gifted them with reconstructed vagina's, without their knowledge and consent. He went undetected for years, as he performed these surgeries right after childbirth, just to explain the stitches away. What's even more shocking, is that he would putter away with parts of their anatomy, changing this thing here and that thing there, cutting and chopping, just to increase their sexual responsiveness. His experiments led the patients to have multiple corrective surgeries as his monkeying around actually caused them serious harm. Twelve medical malpractice lawsuits were filed and dropped against him, as his coworkers refused to testify. He was asked to voluntarily surrender his license (whatever happened to good old capital punishments!) for he claims to have had over 2000 such shocking surgeries.
Lung and Leg Surgeries
There's only one motto, be careful of surgeries. In the summer of 2005, UK national Lawrence Ball was diagnosed with lung cancer, after secondary opinions from NHS Grampian. In what can only be called 'inexplicable', his cancerous lung removal surgery ended up in a nightmare. Turns out that he never had cancer, instead, he lost a lung (for no reason) when he came out. Poor thing, he cannot even walk a few steps now, without feeling breathless and fatigued. The case is a recent medical malpractice lawsuit and is still awaiting judgment.
On the other hand, a surgeon in Tampa mistakenly amputated the wrong limb of 52-year old Willi King. The courts handed him a penalty of over $1 million, to be handed over to the patient as compensation.
A Personality Split of 120
Wisconsin, psychiatrist Kenneth Olson managed to convince a patient that she had 120 split personalities (a very serious case of multiple personality disorders, don't you think?), with the prominent ones being that of a duck and that of Satan. Her creativity will leave all the sociopathic killer personalities of Hollywood ashamed of themselves actually. Not only did he bill her for treating the 120 personalities, he also charged extra for the exorcism he performed on her to remove her visions of being raped by around 70 men and animals. After taking him to court, the patient received a compensation of about 2.4 million dollars. Unfortunately though, the doctor still practices in Montana, which happens to be a good thing if you're suffering from some mental niche ailments, like having the urge to quack every once in a while!
Birth Complications?! I Don't Think So
Texas resident Sarah Wallace went into early labor in 2003, at Mid Jefferson Hospital. During the episiotomy, her doctor Donald Long, missed the mandatory check for a rectovaginal fistula (a hole between the vagina and the anus). Today, Sarah passes stool through her vagina. I can't even imagine it, can you? Her medical malpractice lawsuit is still pending in the courts.
The Spine Chilling Screwdriver
On the job improvisation is a good thing, but not necessarily for a surgeon. In 2001, when Arturo Iturralde went to the hospital to have titanium rods installed in his back (only God knows why? Maybe a fan of Wolverine, my guess), he never imagined that this could happen to him. When the surgery was in progress, the surgeon noticed the rods missing. Using his quick wit, he then installed a handy screwdriver (which just happened to be lying around in the operation theater) in the patient's spine. To top his presence of mind and quick thought processes, one has to give it to the good doc, he actually removed the medically unsafe handles before the installation. Iturralde had to undergo several surgeries later, because the screwdriver actually broke inside (and now I am really getting squeamish). The hospital had to pay up 5.6 million dollars over this because apparently the doctor had his license suspended in two other states and the hospital had forgotten to check!
There are many, many other instances of medical malpractice cases, like a surgeon falling asleep during a liposuction surgery, making a 90 minute surgery to stretch for 6 hours; and a German national having a sex change (ovaries removed) from a doctor who thought that she (he) shouldn't be having them, without taking her consent, nor telling her of it post surgery. Amazing no? For my conclusion though, I leave you with one last horrifying case - The Case of a Lost Testicle.
Daniel Stalker once went for a routine vasectomy (wanted to stop after having 4 children) and had a nightmare of an experience. Despite the anesthesia, when Daniel complained of pain during the surgery, Dr. Paul Dewart took no heed and continued with the procedure. The operation was finally abandoned when Daniel keeled over and threw up. He returned home from hospital that day, with one of his testicles doubled in size and completely black in color. Due to unbearable pain, he had to have it completely removed. Litigation awarded him 1.76 million dollars, but I find it sadly inconsequential to the amount of pain, suffering, and loss of manhood that Daniel had endured.