Patient Claims Drunk Doctor Botched Operation
After a woman was injured in an auto accident two years ago, she started to suffer unremitting and excruciating pain. Seeking relief from the unrelenting daily torture, she consulted with a neurosurgeon, among other doctors. He told her that spinal surgery should be able to remedy her back and neck pain. After having the recommended operation, she has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit asserting two things--that he was grossly intoxicated in the operating room, and botched the operation entirely. The facts which follow are taken from her version of what transpired.
What the neurosurgeon recommended was a T11/12 decompressive laminectomy, as well as a C5 to C7 cervical disectomy. The operation was scheduled to begin around noon at a local hospital Another doctor there was probably shocked to discover the surgeon stumbling in smelling of alcohol shortly before the procedure was set to begin.
This caused quite an argument with raised voices and confrontational statements. At the time the patient, who may have already been sedated, was completely unaware of this drama, which potentially put her life at risk. The resolution then was that the operation began as planned, despite the neurosurgeon's condition. He carried out a partial laminectomy at T10, the wrong location on her spinal column, despite having previously told her that the problem was elsewhere, at T11/12. He also carried out the cervical discetomy.
After closing her back up, he neglected to disclose his error, leaving the patient in the dark. After recovering from the operation, she discovered that her neck and back pain continued unabated. Why remained a mystery to her for around 18 months. Finally, a consultation with another doctor revealed the medical error that the first surgeon had committed--operating on the wrong location, and thereby failing to do anything to alleviate the problem.
An additional surgical procedure that was carried out--this time at the correct location and performed by a sober surgeon, finally gave the woman a modicum of relief. In additional to the initial error, she had been forced to endure her constant pain for an additional year and a half, she asserts, because the first surgeon, besides coming to cut into her spine in a drunken stupor, did not even have the common decency to document and disclose his error afterwards, so that corrective action could be taken in a timely fashion.
The woman and her husband are suing both the first surgeon and the medical practice he works for, seeking monetary compensation and accusing them of negligence well beneath the expected standard of medical competence.
When a patient puts themselves in the hands of a doctor, particularly for an invasive procedure such as spinal surgery, they are trusting that the doctor will make every professional effort to try to solve their problem and avoid either exacerbating it or causing additional injury. To operate while intoxicated, if true, is so far out of kilter with that expectation as to be unconscionable.