DOCTOR SUED AFTER PERFORMING UNREQUESTED FACE BURNING
April 2 2010
Tulsa, OK – There is probably no word in the English language that strikes as much fear into the hearts of human beings as Cancer. One of the leading causes of mortality throughout the modernized world, that dread disease has touched the lives of
virtually everyone, and will touch many more people in the future. Many people reading this article right now will in fact suffer from some type of cancer and some will eventually dies as a result of the illness. Like a grim reaper, cancer stalks us at every avenue.
Because of that hearing those words in a doctor’s office is one of the most devastating diagnoses that one can ever undergo. Faced with such a grim reality, most people have the option to either sink or swim. For those who choose to fight, the battle can be treacherous and almost as destructive as the disease itself but for those lucky few who come out on the other side, the rewards are more than worth the effort. Such a victory was something Connie Plumlee was enjoying after undergoing a double mastectomy and being declared cancer free. Now able to enjoy the rest of her life, the lives of her children and her grandchildren, Plumlee was revelling in her victory but an effort to further normalize herself went drastically awry. During surgery to reconstruct her absent breasts, Plumlee’s face was set on fire in a completely unasked for addition to her surgery.
“When I first woke up in recovery, a gentleman was standing over me and said ‘do you know what happened?' He had tears in his eyes and I said, ‘surgery.' I was so sedated. He goes, ‘you were burned,' and that stuck with me,” said Plumlee to NewsOn6. “It's been hard. I'm a go-getter, have a family, my whole life is changed. The doctor told me it was a minor setback, she wouldn't scar and it would be similar to having a chemical peel but my lips and face are deformed and I need constant medical care, which is why we are suing.”
The doctor, Brad Garber, claimed that such facial mutilations were common during breast surgeries and that most patients assent to the procedure when it is mentioned, though it was not made clear with Plumlee that her face would be set on fire.
“Normally a doctor will make it clear with the patient what exactly will occur during the surgery. When there is the possibility of complications they are also obligated to make sure that the patient is aware that such things might happen, and allow them to give informed consent beforehand,” said Scrape TV Medical analyst Dr. Phillip Waites. “That is important from a legal standpoint as well as a medical ethics position. You can’t simply perform whichever procedure you wish on a patient. Aside from the fact that it could imperil the life of the patient, it would unnecessarily raise the cost of the procedure which can sometimes be worse than the operation itself.”
It’s not clear if Plumlee had medical insurance, or if she knew what the premium would be on having your face set on fire.
“Unfortunately what I think we have here is a case where a doctor took advantage of a patient for financial gain. He somehow sensed that she wouldn’t assent to the face burning procedure and so just left it out of the pre-surgery discussion hoping the results would speak for themselves and make her more than happy to pay up,” continued Waites. “Unfortunately that wasn’t the case here and the patient was obviously unhappy with the massive burns to her face, mouth and throat. Whether or not you agree with her opinion, which the doctor does not obviously, the reality is you have to respect the wishes of the patient, even if it hurts the pocketbook.”
After being faced with the lawsuit Garber claimed that the burning was accidental, though multiple former patients with disfigured faces claim otherwise.
Lauren Hebert, Health Correspondent