Just last Friday, a lawsuit was filed against SSM Health care-St. Louis and neurosurgeon, Dr. Armond Levy, for medical malpractice in Missouri state court. What is so shocking is that the brain surgeon operated on the wrong side of Regina Turner’s brain. Turner was scheduled for “left-sided craniotomy bypass” on April 4, 2013 at St. Clare Health Center in Fenton, Missouri. Instead, Turner received a “right-sided craniotomy surgical procedure” the lawsuit alleges.
While Turner was having neurological problems prior to the surgery, Turner “was mobile, cognizant and able to care for herself” according to the suit. After the incorrect surgery, Turner now “requires around-the-clock care for her basic needs.” Dr. Levy, the surgeon charged with the error, is one of seven board certified neurosurgeons associated with SSM Neurosciences Institute. According to Turner’s attorney, this surgeon did not attempt to hide or cover-up the error; however, he will be held accountable in this case.
How did this happen? According to St. Louis Post Dispatch, hospital safety experts characterize these types of events as “never events,” meaning that such events should never occur with proper vigilance by hospital staff and surgeons. The experts also characterize such events as “systems or process breakdowns.” In other words, these events stem from when the hospital or surgical center lacks proper systems and processes to “mistake-proof” such errors. According to Turner’s suit, SSM’s hospital staff improperly prepared the operating room and “stood by and watched A.L. [Dr. Levy] operate on the wrong side of plaintiff’s [Turner’s] skull and brain when they could have prevented the error.” Turner’s attorney added that once the operating team realized they had made an error, a second surgery was performed on Turner’s skull. However, it was too late to correct the irreparable damage caused by the wrong-site surgery, or “never event.”
The lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages for Turner’s personal damages and punitive damages sufficient to punish the defendants for “complete indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of Regina Turner.” Currently, Missouri has no cap on medical malpractice lawsuits after the Missouri Supreme Court struck down such arbitrary limits as unconstitutional. Accordingly, if this makes it to trial, a jury of Turner’s peers will likely decide the fair amount of compensation for Turner and her life-altering injuries as a result of this “never event.”
If you or someone you know have been injured by a wrong-site surgery or medical malpractice, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or 800-594-4884.