You might think that walking into a hospital, you’re in good hands. It’s more than likely that you trust your doctor is capable of performing your procedure–and doing it well. However, this is not always the case. Medical errors account for nearly 100,000 deaths each year in the United States–that’s almost 10% of the total annual deaths! These numbers only account for the medical errors that resulted in death, they do not begin to scratch the surface of cases where patients survived after facing traumatic cases of medical malpractice due to issues like misdiagnosis, surgical errors, or unprofessionalism. If you still don’t believe medical malpractice can be such a common issue, here are some instances of it that might shock you to a harsh realization.
If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, then you might remember an episode where Doctor Miranda Bailey was performing surgery to remove a tumor in a patient’s abdominal wall, only to have the patient’s heart rate suddenly spike, with no signs of bleeding. Doctor Bailey panicked, trying to figure out what had gone wrong, only to realize that the patient had somehow woken up. For viewers, this was a terrifying moment that led to plenty of entertaining drama between Doctor Bailey and her patient, but for 73-year-old Sherman Sizemore, a Baptist minister from West Virginia, a similar, real-life scenario proved to be much more severe. In 2006, Mr.Sizemore was admitted to Raleigh General Hospital to undergo exploratory surgery to identify the cause of the abdominal pain that he had recently been experiencing. The anesthesiologists on staff gave Mr.Sizemore paralyzing drugs to keep his muscles from twitching or jerking during surgery but failed to give him general anesthesia. As a result, Mr.Sizemore was conscious for 16 minutes after the first incision was made into his abdomen until the doctors finally realized their mistake and administered the proper anesthesia. For the following two weeks, Mr.Sizemore was said to have changed completely, acting paranoid to the point where he refused to be alone, saying that people were trying to bury him alive. He also struggled with sleep, suffering from intense nightmares of the experiences that he wasn’t sure were real or not–because the hospital never informed him of their mistake. Tragically, this all ended when Mr.Sizemore chose to take his own life. His family chose to sue the hospital after his death, believing that his experience during surgery had severely impacted his psychological well-being and driven him to take his own life.
Abuse of Power
If you’re a big fan of true crime documentaries, then you might remember one released by Netflix in 2022 titled Our Father. The documentary follows the story of Jacoba Ballard, who took an at-home DNA test only to find that she had seven half-siblings she had never heard of. While researching their relationship, they discovered that their mothers had all been artificially inseminated by the same doctor, who had, without consent from his patients, used his semen for the process. The documentary includes interviews with eight of the siblings, a few of their mothers, and some of the doctor’s colleagues. The doctor in question, Doctor Donald Cline, ran a fertility practice that was open from 1979 until his retirement in 2009. So, while 94 people have been found to have been fathered by the doctor, it is suspected that he has plenty of other children who have yet to be identified. When Jacoba Ballard had originally sought Doctor Cline’s prosecution, she was told that nothing could be done because no law prohibited the doctor’s conduct, but she kept pushing, and it was eventually discovered that he had lied to police, claiming to have never used his semen in the artificial insemination of his patients. So, in 2018, he was convicted on the charges of obstruction of evidence. However, many of his patients have filed civil lawsuits against the doctor, and he has been forced to pay over a million dollars in fines.
Possibly the most upsetting aspect of this case–besides the fact that the majority of states in the U.S. do not have laws in place to properly prosecute fertility doctors who have used their semen to artificially inseminate their patients–is that it is not an isolated incident. Donald Cline, Paul B. Jones, Cecil Jacobson, Quincy Fortier, Gerald Mortimer, Norman Barwin–these are just some of the over 50 doctors in the United States who have been found to have artificially inseminated their patients with their sperm. And, with the growing popularity of at-home DNA tests, more doctors will likely be discovered to be guilty of this wild type of medical malpractice.
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