Pursuant to a Consent Order dated February 14, 2014, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts, which is the sole and exclusive administrative agency in the State of Kansas authorized to regulate the practice of the healing arts (“Board”), suspended the Kansas medical license of a neurosurgeon for at least two years for his alleged failure to recognize the significance of an injury that had occurred to a patient during surgery; his alleged failure to document within the patient’s medical record that a surgical incident had occurred during the surgery; his alleged failure to timely advise the patient’s concurrent and subsequent treatment providers of the injury that had occurred during the surgery; and, his alleged failure to timely advise the patient’s family about the injury that occurred to the patient during surgery.
The Underlying Facts
On February 26, 2007, a 77-year-old woman had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed which revealed a left-side subdural hematoma. The woman was admitted to the hospital where she was examined by the neurosurgeon. On February 27, 2007, the patient underwent surgery for evacuation of a left parietal and frontal subdural hematoma through a burr-hole procedure performed by the neurosurgeon.
The neurosurgeon advised the patient’s family on February 27, 2007 after the surgery that “everything went great.”
On the same day as the surgery (February 27, 2007), the neurosurgeon dictated his operative report in which he described his placement of two burr holes and the draining of fluid from each. The operative report also described the placing of a Jackson-Pratt drain and what was variously described as gentle or careful irrigation of the sites.
Following surgery, the patient exhibited aphasia and right-sided hemiparesis. She had a computed tomography (CT) scan on February 27, 2007, which showed new areas of Pneumocephalus and hemorrhage in the brain.
On February 28, 2007, an MRI ordered by the neurosurgeon showed a large hematoma in the left frontal lobe. Later that day, a second post-operative CT scan ordered by the neurosurgeon confirmed a Pneumocephalus deep in the parenchyma and a growing area of hemorrhage.
On February 28, 2007, the neurosurgeon advised the patient’s family that the woman’s deteriorating condition was likely caused by a stroke but failed to mention an incident that had occurred during the surgery that he had failed to document in the patient’s records. On March 1, 2007, a neurologist examined the patient, reviewed the patient’s imaging scans, and suspected that an injury to the brain had occurred; he discussed his suspicion with the neurosurgeon and thereafter submitted an incident report to the hospital’s risk management department.
It was not until June 5, 2007 (over three months later) that the neurosurgeon authored an addendum to his operative report that stated that a surgical technician directed what was termed as a “forceful irrigation” into the left-frontal burr hole site while the neurosurgeon had his back turned and that when the neurosurgeon inspected the left parietal burr hole site for placement of the drain, he noted a small piece of brain tissue draining out of the site with the residual irrigation; that the subdural space was nearly absent when it had been open moments before and that the neurosurgeon did not believe he could safely place the drain into that site; that the neurosurgeon observed what was termed “small amount of bleeding” from the surface of the underlying brain; and, that the neurosurgeon believed there was no injury to, or penetration of, the substance of the brain by him.
This matter is a prime example of how incidents of medical negligence may not be discussed or referenced in patient medical records and that patients injured as a result of medical malpractice may never become aware of the cause of, or reason for, their unanticipated suffering and debilitating injuries.
How many patients have been deceptively told that their “bad outcome” from a medical procedure was a known risk of the procedure and was “due to bad luck” when the reality was that someone’s negligence, carelessness, or incompetence needlessly caused harm to them?
If you or a loved one may have been injured due to medical negligence in Kansas or in another U.S. state, you should promptly contact a Kansas medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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