Skip to comments.Jury Awards $5.6M in Screwdriver Case
Posted on 03/14/2006 8:39:17 PM PST by kenth
HILO, Hawaii - A Circuit Court jury on Monday awarded $5.6 million to the family of a man who had the shaft of a screwdriver implanted into his spine by an orthopedic surgeon, the family's attorney announced.
Dr. Robert Ricketson had contended he acted properly when he operated on Arturo Iturralde in 2001 because two titanium rods he planned to attach to Iturralde's spine were discovered missing during the operation at Hilo Medical Center.
The stainless steel screwdriver snapped days later, and the then-73-year-old Iturralde had to have three more back surgeries as a result. He died two years later.
The jury determined Ricketson, 48, was negligent, and that the hospital was negligent for credentialing him and allowing him in the operating room, family attorney Mark S. Davis said.
Miles Takaaze, a spokesman for the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. which runs the state's 12 public hospitals, did not immediately return an after-hours call seeking comment.
Davis said earlier that Ricketson's medical license had been suspended in Oklahoma and Texas before he came to the Big Island.
Judge Glenn Hara will determine how the payment $2.2 million to compensate the family for medical expenses and damages and $3.4 million for punitive damages will be split between Ricketson and the hospital.
The jury suggested the hospital be found 35 percent at fault for compensatory damages, Davis said.
Davis had said that upon discovering the rods missing from a surgical kit, Ricketson used a hacksaw to cut off the screwdriver's shaft and inserted it into Iturralde to brace the spine.
update to a story you posted ping
Was all prepared for a "Plaintiff puts out own eye through improper screwdriver use, gets million$$ from jury" story.
That guy got screwed.
I heard the only work he could do after this was as a craftsman.
That idiot doctor should have used a higher quality screwdriver.
He should get the ingenuity award. What was he supposed to do, leave his back open and wait for the new ones?
Right! That job obviusly required pliers.
I've never heard of a public hospital before. HI has 12???
There are times to use innovation, and ...
So it snapped. Big deal. Sears still has a lifetime warranty on Craftsman stuff - just take it back and get a new screwdriver. All the fuss is unnecessary.
I suppose he could have just been competent enough not to lose the titanium rods intended for implantation in the first place. Incompetence compounded by stupidity. They should have sentenced him to have several of his major structural bones replaced with screwdrivers.
Judgements like this one are one of the main causes of rising health care costs.
The question is how hard does one have to screw to break a stainless screwdriver? I hope that I am man enough to accomplish that at 73!
The clown responsible for kitting the operation is liable and that clown would ultimately be Davis.
I dont start jobs without the required materials.
OK weve all probably fouled up a time or two but Davis while innovative with his JB weld and bailing wire fix was negligent in knowingly installing a substandard reinforcement. At very least the patient should have been stabilized and coddled in hospital at no expense until the correct titaniunm rods could be installed
He changed his name to Phillip. Sports a flathead haircut, though.
Dr. Robert Ricketson update ping.
Two years of considerable pain, three more operations, and he died an early death. $5.6 million is not unreasonable. For all we know, it might be less than the hospital offered prior to trial.
The catch is he has to spend it all in one place.
LOL! That's where my mind was when I clicked on this article...haha!
And although I didn't read the whole thing, why does the hospital get to split part of the award?
Though the article is somewhat unclear, I believe they mean splitting the cost with the surgeon, not the award with the estate.
How about check that he had everything he needed before he opened the guy up...
The hospital has to split part of the cost of the award. They were found 35% responsible for the damages.
The Doc was negligent. Had he used a "Yankee" screwdriver his patient would have been able to do the twist better than Chubby Checker ever could.
Why would Davis be liable? He is the plaintiff's attorney, and wasn't even at the operation.
Libertarian ping.To be added or removed from my ping list freepmail me or post a message here
They get to pay, not receive.
I know someone who just went in for an operation. The had her under anesthesia when they discovered one of the machines they needed for the operation was out of order. At least they discovered the problem before they started cutting. She had to go back the next week. There's absolutely no excuse for things like this happening.
A mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known heart surgeon in his shop. The surgeon was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his bike when the mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey, Doc, can I ask you a question?"
The surgeon, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the motorcycle. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag, and asked, "So, Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take valves out, fix 'em, put 'em back in, and when I finish, it works just like new. So how come I get such a small salary and you get the really big bucks, when you and I are doing basically the same work?"
The surgeon paused, smiled, leaned over, and whispered to the mechanic, "Try doing it with the engine running."
Bwahahahaha ... laughing so hard here, over an anecdote in one of the stories I found about Dr. Ricketson.
I was looking for info on the other cases in OK and TX that got him his license revoked. I found him written up in an Oklahoma City news article about drug abuse and addiction, but it was another part of the article that made me LMAO.
That same year , Dr. Robert Ricketson issued medical orders while under the influence of Lortab, board records show. An anesthesiologist refused those orders because they could have worsened a patient's heart problem.
Ricketson's license also was revoked.
[Here's the funny part]
In another memorable case, Duncan said, a doctor received a phone call from a pharmacist trying to confirm a suspicious prescription for morphine.
"The doctor said, 'Well, I'm a pediatrician. I don't prescribe morphine. How did you know it was a fake?'" Duncan said.
"And the pharmacist said, 'It's for M-O-F-E-E-N, and it says: One kilo. Use as needed.'"
What an amateur hack!! A pro would have somehow used duct tape also.
Wasn't that rich? Now why didn't the Walgreen's "comment section" work for that one? "CrAzY MoFo WaNtS Mo MoFeEn!"
Here are just a few of the previous complaints he had, out of 8-9 referenced:
.Gaither v. Ricketson, (Oklahoma Co. 2002). During the time when Dr. Ricketson was taking narcotics on a regular basis, Dr. Ricketson negligently performed a delicate hip surgery which caused permanent damage that disabled an automotive body shop worker.
.Thacker v. Ricketson, (Garfield Co. 2000). Dr. Ricketson negligently implanted Ray cages in Mr. Thackers spine, causing bilateral foot drop and other permanent injuries.
.Young v. Ricketson, (Garfield Co. 1998). Medical malpractice case against Edmond spine surgeon Robert Ricketson, M.D. Dr. Ricketson severed nine of Mrs. Young's nerve roots during an arthroscopic diskectomy in July 1997. The surgery was intended to relieve the pain caused by an extruded intervertebral disc. The nerve root damage caused Mrs. Young to become partially paralyzed below the waist. A $1.3 million settlement was reached. See, Malpractice Suit Settled, Enid News & Eagle, November 25, 1998.
Two more suits written about, but no outcome published that I can find:
.John Kuehner, Edmond, OK - lost use of his right arm following a 1994 surgery on his neck to remove a ruptured disc, leaving him unable to work
.D Thacker, Turpin, OK -- Ricketson damaged nerve tissues near the spinal cord, after Thacker sought him out for surgery to relieve his back pain in Aug 1997. At the time, Ricketson was on probation with the medical board. Note: This is probably the Thacker listed above.
[This next part I transcribed from a really bad HTML copy of half of an undated newspaper clipping, lol]
Under the terms of his probation, he was not allowed to receive, dispense, or administer certain controlled substances, including samples, in his office. He could do so only in a hospital or institutional setting.
He was allowed to prescribe other controlled substances only if duplicate serially numbered copies of the prescription records were kept and made readily available for review by the board upon request.
Ricketson admitted to the board that he ingested hydrocodone, a painkiller, from samples provided to him by a pharmaceutical company. He used the drugs to self-treat his chronic back pain from Jan 1997 to June 1998.
He was also required to submit biological samples for testing of prohibited substances and was not allowed to prescribe medications to family or friends. He could only take medications prescribed for him by another doctor or for other legitimate medical need.
He was to attend at least three meetings of a 12-step recovery program through the Oklahoam Physicians Resources Group or other similar program, every week during the first year of the probation period and periodic meetings of such a program after the first year.
He was also to meet with a counselor or psychiatrist for treatment until discharged from treatment with written verification to the board.
Other conditions of the 5-year probation included filing a copy of the board's order with the state in which he holds medical licenses or applies for one while keeping the board informed of his current address and financial standing.
[He had already moved to Hawaii by then.][TX revoked his license for not following the order to inform them of the order.]
my mistake. I meant the doctor
BTW I have a very close friend that has had his titanium rods break and there was no warranty, unlike Craftsman.
Sorry, but the sarcasm tag was probably needed.
Really gets you mad. I'm glad I am a healthy person.