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A $20 million dollar personal injury lawsuit verdict was awarded this week in favor of the Metheny family of Arkansas. The family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the Children’s Hospital’s insurance company, Proassurance Indemnity Company Inc.

In 2004, a 15 year old patient, Cody Metheny, underwent brain surgery in hopes of reducing seizures and the amount of medication he was required to take. During the surgery, representatives of the media were present to observe and photograph the medical procedure. The Gazette ran a pictorial of Dr. Badih Adada reviewing Cody’s brain scans prior to the surgery (as shown above).

Everything seemed procedurally correct. However, four hours into the surgery, surgeons realized they had been removing pieces from the wrong side of his brain, obvious medical negligence causing severe brain injury and associated symptoms. As soon as the surgical staff realized what they were doing, they immediately contacted the top four people connected to the hospital: the CEO, vice president, risk manager and nursing supervisor. At that time they performed a second operation on the correct side of the brain. They did not, at any time, contact Cody’s parents. “All those people knew, but the family didn’t know,” said Grant Davis, attorney for the family.

The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged, among other things, that the mistake permanently changed Cody’s personality and behavior; the surgical team did not perform all of the hospital’s pre-surgery protocols; and the doctors failed to notify Cody’s parents of the mistake.

The Metheny’s found out about the doctors’ negligence by accident when, 15 months later, they took their son to another hospital for a second opinion on Cody’s recovery and changes. The jury returned a unanimous verdict – in part because of the lack of honesty from the hospital.

We have discussed how open communication between doctors and patients is invaluable. This case further proves that hospital cover-ups not only still happen, but are ultimately detrimental to the reputation of the facility and its bottom line.

St Louis personal injury lawyer Ben Sansone’s comments on Erin’s article:

Since I began my St Louis injury law firm about 10 years ago, I have handled dozens of Missouri and Illinois medical negligence cases arising from medical errors by doctors, surgeons, and health care staff. At first I was surprised by the cover ups and frequency of mistakes by medical personnel, all my life I held doctors up to be perfect, but they are just human and a certain percentage will make negligent mistakes and cause injuries to patients, that is just a fact of life. A certain percentage of negligent doctors will attempt to cover those mistakes up, because in the end, health care providers are primarily in business, like anyone else, to make money and mistakes cost money and reputation points; and since they control the medical records cover ups are not uncommon.

In fact just recently, in an Illinois wrongful death and medical negligence case, we received the medical records and about 6 months later were able to discover the originals were whited out, which you cannot see on a copy. See the picture of the whited out original. The excuse by the negligent doctor, as expected, was a claimed mistake in taking down the history so she whited it out. However, medical record keeping standards require mistakes to be crossed out, not hidden, and then the correction written next to it. In the picture to the right the original record is held up against a window so the light shines through and showed what the doctor whited out to cover up a mistake. This was not an insignificant entry, the entry hidden by the whiteout is a crucial part of the case and shows that the Illinois wrongful death victim was suffering symptom “x 1 day” which the negligent doctor disputes claiming her death was caused by a sudden onset of symptoms after she saw her and not that she failed to diagnose bronchi pneumonia.

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