HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bizarre Medical Malpractice Case

I cannot believe that a doctor (or any human being) would actually do this to another individual.  At first, the story read a little like some of those managed care horror stories that we used to hear about, but apparently this was not an effort to save money - just a case of some missing medical equipment.

According to a report on MSNBC, a jury in Hawaii found a doctor and a hospital negligent (the hospital for negligent credentialing) and awarded $5.6 million to the " family of a man who had the shaft of a screwdriver implanted into his spine by an orthopedic surgeon."  Why would the surgeon do such a thing, you ask . . . well, apparently Dr. Robert Ricketson could not find the "two titanium rods he planned to attach to [the patient's] spine . . . during the operation at Hilo Medical Center."  (Next time I undergo surgery, I plan to check for any common household tools that might be hidden in the operating room).   Unfortunately for the doctor, the stainless steel (I believe this substance to be somewhat less strong than titanium) snapped several days later and the man had to undergo three more surgeries and then died two years later.

Dr. Ricketson's medical license had been suspended by both Texas and Oklahoma before he moved to Hawaii.  Looks like someone failed to consult with  the databank.  [bm]

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