The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported yesterday on a medical malpractice victim who is taking steps to ensure that no one else falls victim to his negligent doctor’s error.
In 2004, Dr. Cully White performed back surgery on Kenneth Plants. However, Dr. White performed the surgery on the wrong side of Mr. Plants back. The doctor then failed to explain the error to other doctors. On top of all of that, Mr. Plants was then charged $7,000 for a second procedure that was never actually completed. Overall, it was a nightmare scenario for Mr. Plants. He is still unable to go back to work as a carpenter, with his back problems yet to be fully corrected. Fortunately, Mr. Plants sought our medical malpractice lawyers who helped him reach a settlement worth over $2.9 million.
But like many victims of medical malpractice, Mr. Plants was also concerned that others might be harmed by Dr. White’s error. Unfortunately, the state Medical Examining Board is notoriously slow in investigating doctor errors. The Board has not begun the investigation in this case, even though the surgery occurred more than six years ago. To force the Board to look into the matter, Mr. Plants recently filed what is known as a “writ of mandamus” to force the governing body to perform its duty.
Mr. Plants is asking the court to ensure that the Medical Examining Board “investigates allegations of unprofessional conduct and negligence in a reasonable time.” A 2008 investigation into the Medical Examining Board revealed that the institution was almost always slow to investigate these matters. The investigation also showed that the Board keeps most of its investigations secret, rarely imposing disciplinary actions (even with errors that lead to patient deaths).
Medical malpractice lawsuits seek much more than merely ensuring that victims of negligence are compensated for their loss. As this situation demonstrates, these lawsuits also seek to ensure that negligent doctors are not able to harm future patients. Failure of state agencies to properly monitor these acts of negligence, however, means that doctors are often free to commit error after error as long as they have insurance to cover their victims’ losses.
Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have witnessed first-hand the destruction wrought by these acts of medical negligence. Every step must be taken to ensure that future patients receive the treatment to which they are entitled. State agencies investigating medical errors need to take every possible step to investigation medical malpractice and stop negligent doctors from committing more errors.