Nearly 300 patients sought the services of Dr. Mark Weinberger, an Indiana otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist), complaining of allergies, congestion, headaches, and snoring. Instead of treating their conditions, however, the self-proclaimed “Nose Doctor” treated the patients for non-existing conditions that ultimately resulted in the doctor performing unnecessary surgical procedures. The Nose Doctor prematurely diagnosed patients with some sort of mucus drainage blockage condition. A Medspace article provides Weinberger then recommended and performed an outdated and problematic procedure of drilling two holes in the patient’s maxillary sinuses to supposedly facilitate mucus drainage. A major risk associated with such a procedure involves recirculation of mucus, thereby worsening the sinus complications. Most of the patient’s conditions could have been cured with medication or nasal irrigation.
In their medical malpractice claim, the patients alleged that the surgeries performed by Dr. Weinberger were not only unnecessary and fake, but led to devastating permanent physical changes. In one particular case, the Nose Doctor wrongly diagnosed a patient with a sinus problem when in actuality the patient had throat cancer. The patient died due to the misdiagnosis, which initiated a wrongful death suit by the decedent’s family.
In fear of the pending lawsuits, the Nose Doctor fled while on vacation in Greece in 2004. He would not be seen again for five years. On top of the alleged medical malpractice claims, in 2006 the federal government charged Weinberger with healthcare fraud for filing fictitious procedures with insurance companies amounting in over $530,000.
USA Today reports that after 5 years of searching, the fugitive doctor was finally captured and arrested in 2009 on the snowy mountains of Italy living in a tent. The Nose Doctor plead guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 7 years in prison. A federal judge held Weinberger operated a “surgical factory” and his medical office earned over $30 million in the three years prior to his disappearance. Almost 15 times more than the average medical office under similar conditions.
The pending medical malpractice suit finally reached a resolve. In June 2013, a judge approved a $55 million medical malpractice settlement that will be divvied up between the 282 patients, according to the The Associated Press. This settlement is the largest settlement involving a single healthcare professional in Indiana. The patients will be compensated through a medical malpractice program administered by the state.
Similar to the Weinberger case, the vast majority of medical malpractice cases do not go to trial. Instead, the cases are either dropped, disposed of, or settled upon. So it is not unusual for such a case to never make it to trial.
Do you think you have a medical malpractice claim?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider carelessly deviates from the accepted standard of medical care that results in an injury to the patient. Physicians are respected by society for their humane service, and the law imposes a duty on them to conform to the standards of care an average, qualified provider in a similar medical field under similar circumstances would also follow.
If you or a loved one has sustained harm or even death as a direct result of careless medical care, please contact our attorneys for a free consultation to see what legal rights may be available to you. Our team will evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process.
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