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South Carolina whistleblower loses medical malpractice case

A South Carolina orthopedic surgeon, whose whistle-blowing led to a federal lawsuit against a healthcare provider, was himself censured by a jury recently. The doctor was found liable in a medical malpractice case arising from a 2010 operation he performed on a patient's knee.

As the jury deliberated, lawyers for both sides told the judge that they were working on a settlement figure. However, they had not announced an agreement before the jury returned a verdict that determined the doctor was liable and set to work on deliberating punitive damages. Because of the settlement possibility, the judge sealed the jury's decision and said it would not be revealed if such a deal were reached.

The surgeon lost this case even as he stood to win millions of dollars in the federal lawsuit against a major healthcare provider over part-time contracts to perform surgeries exclusively at that provider's facilities. The contracts in question were what led to the hospital ultimately being found guilty of violating the Stark Law and the False Claims Act. The case was under appeal and remained open to settlement, but the hospital was facing a judgment of $237 million in the case. If they paid the full $237 million, then the South Carolina surgeon would be eligible to receive between $35 million and $59 million. The doctor had promised to donate any money he received due to the lawsuit to charity.

Patients in South Carolina deserve a high standard of care. The advice and counsel of an attorney may be helpful to individuals who feel they have been the victims of mistakes made by medical experts. An attorney could work to secure financial compensation for medical expenses and other damages.

Source: The State, "Whistleblower surgeon loses malpractice lawsuit", Braden Bunch , October 10, 2013

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