A Florida man, who is suing two Broward County doctors for malpractice in a rare case allowing a punitive damages claim.
The man claims his plastic surgeon later lied about his detached role in the botched surgery, created two sets of medical records to hide the truth and still billed his insurance company for performing surgery.
The Broward Circuit Judge issued an order in July putting punitive damages in play, and Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal on Sept. 29 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari on the issue. The trial is set for March 2.
The man is suing a surgeon and a plastic surgeon after an operation to remove small growths under Glasson’s enlarged breasts ended with the complete removal of both breasts, leaving the man’s chest disfigured.
Obtaining permission to add punitive damages means the alleged misconduct was well over and above the normal malpractice. Normally, patients who win malpractice cases are allowed to seek only compensatory damages covering medical expenses, lost pay and pain and suffering.
Punitive damages are intended to punish wrongdoers and deter others. They are not covered by a doctor’s malpractice insurance, are not subject to a statutory cap and are based on a defendant’s net worth.
The allowance for punitive damages means the judge was convinced the claimed malpractice rose to a level of reckless disregard for human life and safety and suggested an intentional act.
The plastic surgeon “personally marked Glasson’s chest” for incisions and discussed the procedure with surgeon as the surgery began, but he “never bothered to scrub for the procedure. Instead he went out for coffee,” the complaint said.
“After stopping in to view the surgery and observing that the surgeon had performed the wrong procedure on one breast, the plastic surgeon simply returned to his office” without intervening, the complaint said. “As a result, the surgeon performed the wrong procedure on man’s other side as well.”
The plastic surgeon’s actions fell below the standard for acceptable care by failing to order the biopsy, adequately warn the patient of the surgical risks and alternatives, participate in the surgery, advise the surgeon that he was performing the wrong procedure and provide promised reconstructive surgery, the complaint said.
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