botched operations drug abuse at center of shocking lawsuit

The overwhelming majority of medical malpractice lawsuits alleging harm attributable to some type of surgical error typically involve a single incident, meaning they accuse a surgeon of making an isolated — yet incredibly devastating — medical mistake that harmed a single patient.

However, some medical malpractice lawsuits allege systemic — and altogether horrifying — instances of surgical errors, meaning they accuse a single surgeon of being responsible for multiple medical mistakes that caused serious harm to multiple patients.

By way of illustration, consider a rather terrifying case out of Texas, where a 68-year-old man has filed lawsuits against a neurosurgeon, the renowned Baylor Health Care System and the nationally recognized Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano over what he claims was at least three botched spinal surgeries — including his own — performed from 2011-12.

According to the lawsuit, the Baylor defendants knowingly recruited and hired a neurosurgeon with a history of substance abuse problems back in 2011, expending considerable funds to help him establish and promote a spinal institute and encourage other physicians to refer patients to him.

The lawsuit goes on to allege that the Baylor defendants knowingly allowed the neurosurgeon to continue to perform spinal operations despite evidence of substance abuse issues and even wrote him a letter of reference enabling him to continue practicing elsewhere after asking him to resign.

Specifically, some of the more shocking allegations in the complaint include:

  • The neurosurgeon had been previously disciplined for substance abuse problems at another institution, and medical personnel at Baylor routinely witnessed behavior consistent with continued substance abuse — even during surgical procedures. 
  • The neurosurgeon performed an “unnecessary surgery” on the plaintiff, operating on the wrong body part.
  • The neurosurgeon performed a botched surgery that left his friend and roommate a quadriplegic. The friend/victim later told nursing staff that he had seen the neurosurgeon abusing drugs the night before his surgery. 
  • The neurosurgeon lost a patient to massive blood loss shortly after having his hospital privileges reinstated following a one-month suspension for the incident involving the roommate.
  • The Baylor defendants did not report the neurosurgeon to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a federally run “flagging system intended to facilitate a comprehensive review of the professional credentials of health care practitioners,” and even provided him with the letter of reference after asking him to resign following the three botched surgeries.

It remains to be seen what will transpire in the lawsuit against the Baylor defendants and a separate lawsuit against the neurosurgeon. In the meantime, Baylor has denied the allegations.

“The quality of the patient care we provide is of paramount importance to us, and we take all patient care-related claims very seriously,” read a released statement. “We intend to answer the lawsuit and deny its material allegations.”

If the negligence of a medical professional or healthcare organization has seriously compromised your health or caused you to endure the premature loss of a loved one, consider speaking with an experienced and dedicated legal professional to learn more about your rights and options for pursuing justice.

Source: Dallas Business Journal, “Lawsuit claims Baylor let cocaine-using surgeon botch operations,” Bill Hethcock, Jan. 31, 2014

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