A Missouri medical malpractice lawsuit was filed on April 26, 2013 against SSM and a surgeon for carelessness and negligence. According to the allegations, the patient was supposed to receive a “left-sided craniotomy bypass” on April 4 but received a “right sided craniotomy surgical procedure” instead. Realizing their error, the operating team performed the correct surgery six days after the incorrect surgery.
Regina Turner, the patient, received the procedure at St. Clare Health Center, located in Fenton, MO. Turner, 53, can no longer speak intelligibly. According to the allegations in the complaint, Turner was cognizant, mobile, and capable of caring for herself before the surgery, but following the surgery on the wrong side of her brain she needs care 24 hours a day to fulfill her basic needs and she suffers from anxiety, depression, emotional distress, and disfigurement.
Five years ago, Turner began suffering from a series of “mini-strokes” which affected her speech. Before the surgeries, however, she could be understood by members of her family. The goal of the surgery was the prevention of future strokes.
Though Turner is seeking compensation for the error, her attorney has stated, “I wasn’t trying to single out the doctor. He’s going to be held accountable for what he did. He didn’t try to hide what happened. I’m sure he feels terrible about it. That’s why I didn’t want to name him in the case.”
According to hospital safety experts, wrong-person surgeries and wrong-site surgeries are characterized as “never events,” or events that should never occur when proper vigilance is executed by surgeons and medical staff. The author of “Transforming Health Care,” Charles Kenny, stated that when never events occur, they are usually the result of poor quality control and safety protocols that are lacking. Turner’s lawsuit states that the operating room was set up incorrectly by SSM employees who then “stood by and watched [the neurosurgeon] operate on the wrong side of the plaintiff’s skull and brain when they could have prevented the error.”
Currently, there is no comprehensive cap in Missouri on medical malpractice awards. However, a bill is being considered by the Missouri State Senate that would place a cap in future medical malpractice cases for non-economic damages, such as awards for pain and suffering, mobility loss, and loss of sight, hearing, or consortium.