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Aesthetic Surgery Victim’s Family Sues Clinic

A Weston plastic surgery clinic that has allegedly caused the death of two patients is now being sued by the family of the second victim, according to BrowardPalm Beach.com.

Nip & Tuck Surgeries Gone Wrong

Kellee J. Lee-Howard, mother of six and wife to James Howard, had a liposuction procedure performed at Alyne Medical Rejuvenation on February 23rd, 2010 and died the following day of polydrug toxicity because of the clinic’s failure to properly administer lidocaine, according to her husband and his lawyers.

A second patient died on June 11 from a procedure performed at Alyne: Maria Shortall, a 38 year old mother of two stopped breathing halfway through her liposuction. She was subsequently rushed to a hospital and declared dead on arrival.

Other South Florida Plastic Surgeries Gone Bad

Unfortunately, Alyne Medical Rejuvenation is not the only local plastic surgery center where these problems occur.

In January of 2003, a patient named Melda Smith came to the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery for a breast reduction surgery. Instead, she ended up getting a “package deal” that included a liposuction and a tummy tuck in addition to the breast reduction. One of the Center’s busiest surgeons, Dr. Roger Gordon, performed all three procedures the same day, despite Mrs. Smith’s high blood pressure, high cholesterol and under-active thyroid. After the surgeries, while Mrs. Smith was recovering at home, she lost consciousness and had to be rushed to Memorial Hospital in Pembroke Pines. Regretfully, she was soon thereafter pronounced dead of an overdose with one of the painkillers prescribed by Dr. Gordon: hydrocodone. Mrs. Smith’s husband filed a lawsuit that was subsequently settled.

Three Other Patients Dead in Seven Years

Nearly a year later, another one of Dr. Gordon’s patients, Jacquelyn Roberts, died after the doctor performed a breast reduction and a tummy tuck despite her bronchitis, high blood pressure, diabetes and an abnormal EKG. The Florida Department of Health filed a complaint against Dr. Gordon for failing to obtain an adequate pre-op exam and for “an inadequate postoperative and follow up care” and the Florida Board of Medicine fined him $10,000.00 and ordered him to serve 100 hours of community service. Subsequently, Roberts’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit that was settled by Dr. Gordon for $250,000.00 and by the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery for $85,000.00.

A couple of months after Robert’s death, a patient named Lynn Kirouac, accused Dr. Gordon of leaving her breasts permanently scarred after a breast augmentation gone wrong. A jury awarded her $109,000.00.

The preceding cases, together with about 20 other lawsuits, forced the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery to file for Bankruptcy protection in 2004. After the Center closed its doors, Dr. Gordon started working with Strax Rejuvenation and Aesthetics Institute of Lauderhill as an independent contractor. In late 2010, while Dr. Gordon was performing a surgery known as a “Brazilian butt lift” on 35 year old Lidvian Zelaya at Strax Rejuvenation, a glob of fat entered her bloodstream and clogged her arteries, causing her heart to stop. She was rushed to Florida Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

When these unfortunate cases happen, patients are often left with little choice but to pursue legal remedies with the help of a personal injury attorney. You need to know that from October 1, 2011 on, bringing a claim for medical malpractice in Florida will be much harder. Our State just passed a new law protecting doctors, hospitals and other health care providers at the expense of patients. In a nutshell, to bring a claim for medical malpractice you usually need an affidavit from a qualified doctor stating that the health care provider you intend to sue fell below the standard of care, which is the legal standard of negligence for malpractice in Florida. However, since in most cases a Florida doctor will not testify against another Florida doctor, you typically need to get a testimony from an out of state doctor. The new law requires all out of state doctors who would give these opinions to apply for permission from a State board who can then discipline the testifying expert doctor if they don’t like his/her opinion. Why would any physician subject him or herself to such an unfair review? In essence, Floridians and their lawyers will have a much harder time bringing malpractice claims, which will give health care professionals and their insurance carriers a reason to rejoice. Moreover, guess who will wind up paying for the treatment needed by these patients to whom the new law now denies redress? You, me and every other Floridian. What can we all do about it? Contact our State representatives and let our health care and insurance industries’ friendly governor know that you’re not going to take it anymore!

If you or a loved one have been the victims of a plastic surgery gone wrong, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases. The Miami Dade County Medical Malpractice Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano has throughout the years represented many clients involved in medical malpractice cases, traumatic brain injuries and serious personal injuries. Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation.

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