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.
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