New Mexico Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed For Indian Activist’s Death

162017_132140396847214_292624_nThe surviving wife of an Indian activist who died in 2012 at the age of 72, allegedly as a result of the negligent failure to diagnose his esophageal cancer in 2012, has filed a New Mexico medical malpractice case in state court against the hospital where the alleged cancer misdiagnosis (failure to diagnose) occurred.

According to the New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit, the man had gone to the local hospital, complaining of difficulty in swallowing and spitting up blood. The man’s wife was allegedly told that her husband did not have cancer but possibly had an enlarged tonsil (the man had had his tonsils removed as a child). By the time the man’s esophageal cancer was diagnosed, the cancer had spread throughout his body, leading to his death.

A spokesperson for the defendant hospital denied that the hospital was medically negligent or responsible for the man’s death, noting that the New Mexico Medical Review Commission had unanimously voted 6 to 0 that the hospital had not committed medical malpractice.

Who Was The Decedent?

The man was a member of the Oglala Lakota, which is one of the seven sub-tribes of the Lakota people. He began his activism in the early 1960s by protesting the use of American Indian images as mascots for professional and college sports teams.

He was the former leader of the American Indian Movement (“AIM”), which became well-known for its 72-day standoff against federal authorities at Wounded Knee (the site of the 1890 massacre of Lakotas by U.S. cavalry troops) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, protesting the federal government’s mistreatment of American Indians. He had been jailed several times for his activism. He sought the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party in 1987, which he lost. He even had small acting parts in the movies “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Natural Born Killers.” Disney turned to him in 1995 to provide the voice of Pocahontas’ father in the animated movie, “Pocahontas.”

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What Is The New Mexico Medical Review Commission?

The New Mexico Medical Review Commission (“Review Commission”) was created when the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act (“Medical Malpractice Act”) was signed into law in 1976.

Under the Medical Malpractice Act, “[n]o malpractice action may be filed in any court against a qualifying health care provider before application is made to the medical review commission and its decision is rendered.” Section 41-5-15(A). The application must state “the facts of the case, nam[e] the persons involved, [and] the dates and the circumstances, so far as they are known, of the alleged act or acts of malpractice.” Section 41-5-15(B)(1). Once the application is received, the Director serves a copy of the application on the health care provider involved, see § 41-5-16(A), and transmits the application to the health care provider’s professional society, association, or licensing board, see § 41-5-17(A). Three specialists in the health care provider’s field and three lawyers from the state bar association are then chosen to serve on a confidential panel that will review the application. See § 41-5-17(B). After holding a hearing on the application, the volunteer panel decides “whether there is substantial evidence that the acts complained of occurred and that they constitute malpractice[,] and ․ whether there is a reasonable medical probability that the patient was injured thereby.” Section 41-5-20(A).

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If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in New Mexico or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a New Mexico medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 4th, 2014 at 8:50 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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