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Questions Raised About Supervision of Resident Doctors at Parkland Hospital

As local citizens probably know, the Dallas Morning News has been reporting on unfortunate surgical results at Parkland Hospital. The allegation is that these problems may be partly due to improper supervision of inadequately trained medical students and doctors in residency training. The articles have caught the attention of the American Association for Justice, which sent out this press release:

The Dallas Morning News cited an example of a patient, Jessie Mae Ned, who entered the hospital “with private insurance and no major health problems except arthritis in her knee. She left a destitute amputee after 24 surgeries in 16 months and $1 million in billings to Medicaid.” According to “Ned’s medical records,” the patient was apparently “injured in a surgery conducted by a resident trainee and that the damage became life-threatening after she went three days without seeing a faculty doctor.”

The Dallas Morning News reported that “Dr. Frank Gottschalk was part of that controversy long before he supervised the care of” Ned. The paper said that when he was sued 17 years ago by another patient, he made a “sworn” statement in which he “described his role as watching a resident operate, making suggestions, and assisting with tasks, such as body placement. He said nothing about demonstrating proper technique.”

The Dallas Morning News noted, “Medical students nationwide play a far greater role in patient care than is commonly known,” including “performing surgery under a doctor’s close supervision and independently evaluating postoperative patients at some teaching hospitals.” Though “some medical school professors say such activity is essential to training future doctors,” a few “medical ethicists worry that patients are often left in the dark.”

The Dallas Morning News reported that “Parkland Memorial Hospital officials won’t” provide any information about “how much time do faculty surgeons from UT Southwestern Medical Center spend in the operating room when supervising doctors in training.” However, “the hospital inadvertently released a nurse’s record of how long” Gottschalk “was present during a February 2009 wound-cleaning surgery on Jessie Mae Ned: 19 minutes of a 67-minute operation.”

In another report, the Dallas Morning News interviewed “Parkland’s president and chief executive, Dr. Ron Anderson,” who noted that as “a fourth-year medical student,” he carried out “17 amputations in a state hospital.” The paper reported Anderson said that an “orthopedic surgeon ‘directed me all the way through’ and would have taken over ‘if I had hesitated in any way.’” Lyle Kelsey, “executive director of the Oklahoma Medical Board, said it’s not illegal for medical students to perform amputations in that state.”

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

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The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

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