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Jury Awards $5.6M in Screwdriver Case
AP via Yahoo News ^ | 03/14/06 | AP Staff

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.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: Hawaii
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1 posted on 03/14/2006 8:39:19 PM PST by kenth
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To: iPod Shuffle

update to a story you posted ping


2 posted on 03/14/2006 8:40:06 PM PST by kenth (durka durka)
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To: kenth

Was all prepared for a "Plaintiff puts out own eye through improper screwdriver use, gets million$$ from jury" story.


3 posted on 03/14/2006 8:41:31 PM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: kenth

That guy got screwed.


4 posted on 03/14/2006 8:41:42 PM PST by Psycho_Bunny
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To: Psycho_Bunny

I heard the only work he could do after this was as a craftsman.


5 posted on 03/14/2006 8:43:04 PM PST by flashbunny
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To: kenth
I am skeptical of a lot of lawsuits, but this is a no brainer. Wow, what kind of moron puts a screwdriver in someone? This ass should be in jail.
6 posted on 03/14/2006 8:43:17 PM PST by satchmodog9 (Most people stand on the tracks and never even hear the train coming)
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To: Psycho_Bunny

That idiot doctor should have used a higher quality screwdriver.


7 posted on 03/14/2006 8:46:39 PM PST by jazusamo (:Gregory was riled while Hume smiled:)
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To: kenth

He should get the ingenuity award. What was he supposed to do, leave his back open and wait for the new ones?


8 posted on 03/14/2006 8:48:05 PM PST by SouthTexas (Hillary supported! UAE defeated! Thanks guys.)
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To: satchmodog9
Wow, what kind of moron puts a screwdriver in someone?

Right! That job obviusly required pliers.

9 posted on 03/14/2006 8:48:27 PM PST by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done, needs to be done by the government.)
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To: kenth
"Davis said earlier that Ricketson's medical license had been suspended in Oklahoma and Texas before he came to the Big Island. "

Is there any way to find out why he was suspended ?

Sounds like he should be in jail.
10 posted on 03/14/2006 8:48:34 PM PST by HuntsvilleTxVeteran (“Don't approach a Bull from the front, a Horse from the rear, or a Fool from any side.”)
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To: kenth

I've never heard of a public hospital before. HI has 12???


11 posted on 03/14/2006 8:48:51 PM PST by kerryusama04 (The Bill of Rights is not occupation specific.)
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To: kenth
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.

There are times to use innovation, and ...

12 posted on 03/14/2006 8:50:11 PM PST by Moonman62 (Federal creed: If it moves tax it. If it keeps moving regulate it. If it stops moving subsidize it)
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To: jazusamo
That idiot doctor should have used a higher quality screwdriver.

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.

13 posted on 03/14/2006 8:51:12 PM PST by Hank Rearden (Never allow anyone who could only get a government "job" attempt to tell you how to run your life.)
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To: SouthTexas
He should get the ingenuity award. What was he supposed to do, leave his back open and wait for the new ones?

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.

14 posted on 03/14/2006 8:56:28 PM PST by The_Victor (If all I want is a warm feeling, I should just wet my pants.)
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To: satchmodog9; kenth
Yeah, the doctor screwed up (pun intended), but $5.6M???

Judgements like this one are one of the main causes of rising health care costs.

15 posted on 03/14/2006 8:58:52 PM PST by bjcintennessee (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff)
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To: Hank Rearden

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!


16 posted on 03/14/2006 8:59:37 PM PST by ExpatGator (Progressivism: A polyp on the colon politic.)
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To: Moonman62
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.

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

17 posted on 03/14/2006 8:59:46 PM PST by mylife (The roar of the masses could be farts)
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To: flashbunny

He changed his name to Phillip. Sports a flathead haircut, though.


18 posted on 03/14/2006 9:00:02 PM PST by Larry Lucido
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To: aculeus; dighton; Lijahsbubbe; martin_fierro

Dr. Robert Ricketson update ping.


19 posted on 03/14/2006 9:09:42 PM PST by Thinkin' Gal (As it was in the days of NO...)
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To: jazusamo
At least if he used a Craftsman he could get a free replacment from Sears under the lifetime warranty>

/s

20 posted on 03/14/2006 9:10:39 PM PST by IllumiNaughtyByNature (My Pug is On Her War Footing)
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To: bjcintennessee

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.


21 posted on 03/14/2006 9:13:46 PM PST by connectthedots
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To: connectthedots
he died an early death. $5.6 million is not unreasonable.

The catch is he has to spend it all in one place.

22 posted on 03/14/2006 9:21:45 PM PST by Reeses
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To: kenth
clicca per ingrandire la foto ???
23 posted on 03/14/2006 9:30:08 PM PST by txroadkill
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To: txroadkill

LOL! That's where my mind was when I clicked on this article...haha!


24 posted on 03/14/2006 9:31:33 PM PST by BossLady
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To: bjcintennessee

And although I didn't read the whole thing, why does the hospital get to split part of the award?


25 posted on 03/14/2006 9:35:18 PM PST by jra
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To: jra
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.

26 posted on 03/14/2006 10:10:57 PM PST by Brujo (Quod volunt, credunt.)
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To: SouthTexas

How about check that he had everything he needed before he opened the guy up...

Duh...


27 posted on 03/14/2006 10:24:04 PM PST by DB (©)
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To: jra

The hospital has to split part of the cost of the award. They were found 35% responsible for the damages.


28 posted on 03/14/2006 10:27:35 PM PST by DB (©)
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To: kenth
Perhaps this is what it was supposed to look like:
29 posted on 03/14/2006 10:49:50 PM PST by KittyKares
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To: K4Harty

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.


30 posted on 03/14/2006 10:55:47 PM PST by gas0linealley
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To: mylife

Why would Davis be liable? He is the plaintiff's attorney, and wasn't even at the operation.


31 posted on 03/14/2006 11:00:05 PM PST by nickcarraway (I'm Only Alive, Because a Judge Hasn't Ruled I Should Die...)
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To: KittyKares
But it came out looking like this, a couple of days later:


X-Ray of the Screwdriver

32 posted on 03/14/2006 11:25:39 PM PST by Rte66
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To: Rte66

Ouch!


33 posted on 03/14/2006 11:28:56 PM PST by KittyKares
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To: albertp; Allosaurs_r_us; Abram; AlexandriaDuke; Americanwolf; Annie03; Baby Bear; bassmaner; ...
this doc didnt know the rules you can only build a human spine out of a screwdriver and a hacksaw if your last name is Macgyver geesh i thought everyone knew that this is actually one of the rare multi million dollar lawsuits that have merit.

Libertarian ping.To be added or removed from my ping list freepmail me or post a message here

34 posted on 03/14/2006 11:30:54 PM PST by freepatriot32 (Holding you head high & voting Libertarian is better then holding your nose and voting republican)
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To: Rte66
Two problems with that x-ray that make it a weak construct.

1. There should be four screw, one in each pedicle with two rods.

2. There doesn't appear to be any graft material.

The screws and rods will not last forever they get metal fatigue. The graft material grows to form a fusion. If he had two screwdrivers he might have gotten away with it.
35 posted on 03/15/2006 12:36:52 AM PST by pterional
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To: jra

They get to pay, not receive.


36 posted on 03/15/2006 12:53:08 AM PST by Ursus arctos horribilis
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To: KittyKares
Damn, pic gives me memory shakes, I had to have four levels of the lumbar did up as such. Totally unpleasant during and painful since, but at least I can now function somewhat normal, before surgery could not.
37 posted on 03/15/2006 12:57:12 AM PST by Ursus arctos horribilis
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To: kenth

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.


38 posted on 03/15/2006 1:05:46 AM PST by Fresh Wind (Democrats are guilty of whatever they scream the loudest about.)
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To: martin_fierro

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."


39 posted on 03/15/2006 1:15:52 AM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: JoeSixPack1

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 [1998], 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.'"
~~~~~


40 posted on 03/15/2006 1:50:37 AM PST by Rte66
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To: Rte66
...M-O-F-E-E-N, and it says: One kilo. Use as needed.'"

ROFLMAO!!!

41 posted on 03/15/2006 1:56:48 AM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: satchmodog9
Wow, what kind of moron puts a screwdriver in someone?

What an amateur hack!! A pro would have somehow used duct tape also.

42 posted on 03/15/2006 2:28:03 AM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: JoeSixPack1

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. Thacker’s 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.]


43 posted on 03/15/2006 3:09:40 AM PST by Rte66
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To: nickcarraway

my mistake. I meant the doctor


44 posted on 03/15/2006 3:35:06 AM PST by mylife (The roar of the masses could be farts)
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To: JoeSixPack1
* rimshot *
45 posted on 03/15/2006 5:39:14 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: The_Victor; DB
Neglected "S" tag for sarcasm. sheesh

BTW I have a very close friend that has had his titanium rods break and there was no warranty, unlike Craftsman.

46 posted on 03/15/2006 6:02:05 AM PST by SouthTexas (Hillary supported! UAE defeated! Thanks guys.)
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To: SouthTexas
Neglected "S" tag for sarcasm. sheesh

Sorry, but the sarcasm tag was probably needed.

47 posted on 03/15/2006 6:27:07 AM PST by The_Victor (If all I want is a warm feeling, I should just wet my pants.)
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To: connectthedots
As much as I am all for the doc being hung, this guy was over 70 and the article does not state he died from complications from this ordeal. If he did, then you are correct. I find it amazing he had a license to practice medicine after he was suspended in two states. You can't do that with your drivers license. You get suspended in Illinois, you are suspended in Arizona. I guess the doctors have a good lobby.
48 posted on 03/15/2006 6:45:32 AM PST by satchmodog9 (Most people stand on the tracks and never even hear the train coming)
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To: satchmodog9

check out this guy:

http://www.oregonlive.com/oregonian/malpractice/index.ssf?/base/front_page/1131093370226790.xml&coll=7


49 posted on 03/15/2006 6:57:57 AM PST by connectthedots
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To: connectthedots

Really gets you mad. I'm glad I am a healthy person.


50 posted on 03/15/2006 7:09:58 AM PST by satchmodog9 (Most people stand on the tracks and never even hear the train coming)
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