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Institutional failure seems to be involved in malpractice case

Let's say you are about to go in for a very important -- and risky -- surgery. As the hospital preps you for the procedure, you are informed of who your surgeon is and the two of you have a brief discussion. After that talk, you sit in a waiting room. All you have is your thoughts, and your mind races. You're understandably scared -- who isn't before a surgery?

All of a sudden, one of your family members barges in and tells you that your surgeon used to have a major drug problem, and that many of his surgeries in the past have gone horribly wrong.

Granted, this situation is hypothetical and is unlikely to happen to most people. But believe it or not, the circumstances here are more real than you think.

A patient is suing the Baylor Regional Medical Center and Health Care System after they allowed a surgeon to work for them despite a known drug problem and multiple botched surgeries. Those surgical errors resulted in at least one death, one person becoming quadriplegic and another patient having a procedure performed on the wrong body part. Amazingly, the defendants went on to financially support the surgeon when he started his own spinal clinic, pledging hundreds of thousands of dollars towards his clinic and writing him a letter of reference.

Medical staff members are supposed to be outstanding, honorable people who take their work seriously. This story is an indictment of that sentiment. It is also a reminder that whenever a patient is wrongfully harmed during the course of medical treatment, the staffers involved -- or even the medical institution involved -- can be held liable.

Source: Dallas Business Journal, "Lawsuit claims Baylor let cocaine-using surgeon botch operations," Bill Hethcock, Jan. 31, 2014

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