A Texas woman has recently filed a medical malpractice claim against her former surgeon, claiming that the surgeon was dealing with his cancer at the time of her surgery that led to the surgeon’s failure to perform her surgery properly due to his alleged physical disability from the cancer and its treatment. In particular, the woman claims that during her spine surgery on January 12, 2010, the surgeon placed the wrong-sized plate and screws in her spine and that the surgeon was exhausted and fragile immediately after the surgery when the surgeon spoke with the woman’s family. The surgeon died one week after the woman’s surgery.
The woman had to undergo corrective surgery to replace the wrong-sized plate and screws that her cancer-stricken surgeon placed in her spine. The medical malpractice case filed by the woman on March 27, 2012 named her former surgeon’s estate as a medical malpractice defendant.
The woman’s medical malpractice lawsuit raises important issues and competing interests regarding medical caregivers and their patients. While medical providers such as surgeons have a right to privacy regarding their personal lives and personal matters, their patients have a right to know all relevant information regarding their medical care, including information regarding any physical or mental disabilities of their medical providers that may have an effect on their medical care or on their decision to stay with their present medical providers or seek medical treatment elsewhere.
And while medical providers may have an interest in keeping their drug addiction or alcohol addiction private and secret from their patients while they seek treatment for their addictions, we suspect that most patients would want to know, at the very least, about their medical care providers’ addictions and how the addictions might affect their ability to provide competent and necessary medical care.
If your medical provider had a serious infectious medical condition such as HIV or hepatitis, would you want to know that information and how would that information affect your decision to be treated by that medical provider?
If your surgeon on the day of your surgery is pre-occupied by his just-discovered spouse’s infidelity, do you think you have the right to know that information so that you can re-schedule your surgery or find another surgeon?
If your medical provider feels that she is coming down with the flu at the time of your appointment with her, would you expect that she would advise you of such before examining you up close and personal?
Medical decisions are often critical decisions that can have long-term or permanent serious consequences. You expect and deserve that each of your medical providers is “on top of his game” when treating you and making medical decisions on your behalf. Is it inappropriate to inquire of your health care provider if there is anything going on in her personal life that may have any affect on her decision-making ability and/or the medical care that she may provide to you?
If you have become the victim of possible medical malpractice, you should seek the advice of a medical malpractice attorney who may be able to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you and represent you with regard to your claim, if appropriate.
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