On November 17, 2015, the Arkansas State Claims Commission, which is a quasi-judicial Commission created by the Arkansas General Assembly designed to afford relief to those who have in some way been injured or damaged by the State of Arkansas (the Commission is described as “the conscience of the State of Arkansas”), awarded a man $2 million for surgery performed on the wrong side of his brain in 2004. The award must be approved by state legislators before the payment can be made.
The Commission determined that the surgeons and administrators at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences were negligent in performing surgery on the then 15-year-old’s brain at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital that was intended to reduce the number of seizures that he was experiencing.
According to the Commission’s findings, the surgeon who was performing the brain surgery cut into and removed a part of the wrong side of the patient’s brain, which he did not realize until several hours into the surgery. Once the surgeon realized his error, he then operated on the other side of the patient’s brain but never told the patient or his family about the surgical error. It was not until 18 months later that the family discovered the surgeon’s mistake when a MRI showed that surgery was performed on both sides of the patient’s brain.
The Commission found that the surgical team had failed to perform a “time out” before beginning the surgery and also failed to disclose the “sentinel event” following the wrong site surgery. The Commission further found that the surgeon and other physicians and employees of the State of Arkansas had altered medical records or provided incomplete and untrue information and had failed to disclose material facts.
The Commission’s $2 million medical malpractice award came five years after an Arkansas medical malpractice jury had awarded the family $20 million in damages that was subsequently reduced to $11 million by the trial judge. The surgeon who had committed the surgical mistake settled with the family for $1 million.
The Arkansas State Claims Commission
The Arkansas General Assembly established the Claims Commission to mitigate the impact of the rigid rule of “governmental immunity” while adhering to another constitutional direction that the “General Assembly shall from time to time provide for the payment of all just and legal debts of the State.” By creating the Claims Commission, a method was established by which damaged or injured parties could be compensated without the State of Arkansas being made a defendant in any of its courts.
Prior to the establishment of the Claims Commission, the General Assembly had passed “Special Acts” for the benefit of parties it deemed deserving. As these private bills increased in number, the General Assembly resorted to “Omnibus Claims Bills” that incorporated all claims against the State of Arkansas approved by the General Assembly.
Ultimately, the General Assembly found it was unable to devote adequate time to the investigation of each claim, and, therefore, the first Claims Commission consisting of the State Auditor, Attorney General and State Comptroller was created to review claims. In response to a demand for a body removed from political influence that could efficiently determine claims filed against the state, the General Assembly created the Arkansas State Claims Commission in 1955.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to surgery on the wrong site or surgery on the wrong patient, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your losses.
Visit our website to be connected with local medical malpractice lawyers who may be able to represent you with regard to your possible medical malpractice claim or call us toll free in the United States at 800-295-3959.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.