Botched Surgery Raises Questions About Supervision of Doctors-in-Training

The Dallas Morning News published an extended story last week on a series of medical errors caused by a new “doctor-in-training” that is raising questions about the degree of supervision provided for these resident physicians.

The victim of the medical mistake entered Parkland Memorial Hospital in 2008 with no major health problems except knee arthritis. The victim was only 51 years old, but was referred to a doctor at Parkland for knee-replacement surgery to help alleviate some of her pain. She knew that Parkland was a “teaching” hospital, where new doctors at time provide care with the supposed supervision of experienced professionals. However, it was her understanding that the surgeon would be performed by a particularly experienced doctor that she had met with prior.

Unknown to her, someone else would perform the operation. Her actual surgeon turned out to be a new doctor who was only shortly over one year into a five year residency. According to the initial report following the surgery, there were no complications. It took only 74 minutes to replace the knee. However, a few hours later the victim reported a burning sensation in her knee-an early sign of nerve damage. A nurse claims to have notified the doctor of the pain, but that didn’t stop the patient from being released from the hospital shortly after.

By the next day, the patient could not feel anything below the knee. She saw several doctors, including the surgeon and a fourth year medical student-none of them took action. Eventually she was in excoriating pain with swelling on her lower leg and foot. The nurses monitoring the situation kept reporting the drastic nature of the patient, with no pulse in the foot and extreme pain.

It wasn’t until three days after the surgery that an established surgical professor pieced together the information to discover that the problem stemmed from an injury to the artery behind her knee. She underwent three emergencies surgeries shortly after to attempt to restore circulation.

However, her ordeal was long from over.

It ultimately took another 19 surgeries and weeks in the hospital. Her leg eventually became infected with staph and strep. Infection problems trigger uncontrollable vomiting in the following month, leading to an abnormal hernia. A year after the first surgery, she had another one to change the first knee replacement. A surgical error following that surgery (ruptured knee tendon). A few days later the doctors amputated her leg below the knee.

Our Chicago malpractice lawyers are shocked by the harrowing ordeal that this victim was forced to undergo. There is no excuse for these repeated examples of negligent medical care. Under no circumstances should improperly trained doctors perform operations without the necessary oversight. Be sure to contact a malpractice attorney if you or someone you know may have suffered from poor medical care.

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