Switching Surgeons Leads to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Two recent Chicago medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed over the same alleged misdeed: patients were operated on by a different surgeon from the one they were promised. Patients sometimes go to great lengths to seek out a surgeon with particular skills and experience to perform their operation, but find later that someone else actually operated on them.

There are legitimate reasons for another surgeon to be substituted, such as the original surgeon being involved in a medical emergency. But these lawsuits allege that patients were promised a particular surgeon, but someone else carried it out, without the patient’s knowledge or consent.

Recently, a urologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital was sued by a patient because he allegedly did not perform the patient’s kidney operation as promised. And in 2004, a Chicago orthopedic surgeon filed a lawsuit against Rush University Medical Center, alleging that a group of other surgeons were billing Medicare for operations performed by medical residents, with no supervision.

Such stories are not uncommon, but it is unclear how often they occur, because there is no system for tracking them. It can also be difficult to achieve a victory in court.

The American College of Surgeons has issued guidelines for its members that declare that it is unethical to either mislead a patient about the identity of the person to perform an operation, or for a surgeon to perform an operation when the patient believes someone else will be conducting it. The guidelines also state that the surgeon must remain in the immediate vicinity of the operation and that he or she is responsible for the patient’s welfare during the entire procedure. Further, if part of the operation is to be delegated to a resident under the surgeon’s supervision, the patient should be informed prior to the surgery.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

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