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Cocaine-using surgeon leaves man quadriplegic

The next time you need surgery, would you consider choosing a doctor who used cocaine? Some patients in a Texas hospital allege there were not given a choice, but were nonetheless operated on by a doctor who was known to have used cocaine. A man is suing the hospital claiming it allowed the neurosurgeon "to repeatedly botch spinal surgeries."

The lawsuit describes multiple cases of medical malpractice that occurred during 2011 and 2012. It claims the negligent surgeon performed "unnecessary surgery" and wrong site surgery. The injured patient was left a "permanent quadriplegic" after the botched surgery.

The surgeon is alleged to have used cocaine the night before the surgery according to ICU nursing staff. The surgery had already been rescheduled because the doctor had failed to order the proper instruments, which was apparently not unusual for him.

After this incident of medical malpractice, the surgeon had his surgical privileges removed temporarily, but the hospital allowed him to restart operating on patients after about a month and his first operation after reinstatement led to a patient bleeding to death.

This suit alleges the hospital knew he had a cocaine habit, but recruited him, allowed him to operate on patients, and after the suspected medical malpractice and patient death, provided him with a recommendation to allow him to secure employment at another medical clinic.

The hospital, of course, denies all of these claims and in Texas, the man left a quadriplegic by the botched surgery, may have a difficult time winning his case. In Texas, those suing a hospital for negligence must prove malice on behalf of the hospital in order to recover damages. 

Source: Dallas Business Journal, "Lawsuit claims Baylor let cocaine-using surgeon botch operations," Bill Hethcock, February 3, 2014

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