When a patient goes under anesthesia, they leave their safety entirely in the hands of the surgeon and their staff. The patient has no control of what is happening in the surgical room when they are no longer conscious. A surgeon could make a serious mistake and the patient may have no idea. However, a doctor could go even further, and perform additional procedures without the patient’s knowledge.
Cosmetic Surgery Without the Patient’s Knowledge
The pain and violation of having your body altered without consent led one woman to write a book about her experience. Cheryl Sexton Dillon’s doctor recommended a hysterectomy when she was 36. However, during the surgery, the doctor “redesigned” the patient’s vagina, without her consent.
The patient underwent a 9-hour operation, for what was supposed to be a standard hysterectomy. During the surgery, the doctor relocated the woman’s vagina and removed the clitoral hood. After the patient awoke from surgery and began to recover, she said the pain was unlike anything she’d ever experienced, “I thought I would die.”
The patient was unable to work for 6 weeks following the surgery. Eventually, she went to another doctor to find out what was wrong. Other doctors were shocked. The patient was no longer able to have sex with her husband. After three different corrective surgeries, the patient still felt deformed.
When she went public with her story, she found that many other people had similar and tragic experiences with this doctor. The patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and the hospital.
Doctor Experimenting Without Consent
The doctor who performed the surgery, Dr. James C. Burt, had a history of redesigning women’s genitalia. In 1975, Dr. Burt wrote a book called Surgery of Love, which included, “Women are structurally inadequate for intercourse. This is a pathological condition amenable to surgery.”
In 1988, the Ohio Medical Board cited Dr. Burt for experimental and medically unnecessary surgical procedures, including procedures without proper patient consent. Other doctors took their concerns to the medical board, but Dr. Burt continued to practice until this patient took her case public. Eventually, Dr. Burt was charged for “gross immorality” and “grossly unprofessional conduct.” The doctor surrendered his license and later declared bankruptcy.
Informed Consent and Medical Malpractice
Pennsylvania’s MCARE laws require informed consent prior to having a medical procedure. Physicians owe a duty to obtain a patient’s informed consent, or that of their personal representative prior to conducting surgery and anesthesia.
A patient has the right to decide what happens to his or her body. Even if the doctor has an opinion about what the patient should do, the ultimate decision belongs to the patient. A medical professional also has a duty to provide the patient with enough information to make an educated decision for their treatment.
If a doctor fails to get proper informed consent, and the patient is injured, the patient may have grounds to sue for medical malpractice.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers
If you believe that you may be the victim of medical malpractice, the Gilman & Bedigian legal team is here to help. We’re committed to educating patients and families who have been injured by medical malpractice to understand their legal rights and obtain compensation. To speak with a member of our personal injury team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today.