Montana residents may know that doctors have a responsibility to properly consider a patient’s medical history before diagnosing an illness, prescribing medication or recommending surgery. When doctors fail to live up to these obligations, too often a misdiagnosis or surgical error results in serious personal injury, and sometimes even death. Recently, a neurosurgeon with a practice in Billings had his license temporarily suspended as a result of what appears to be medical malpractice.

The order for the surgeon’s license suspension says that one of his patients died from an overdose of four types of pain medication that were prescribed by the surgeon. He is also accused of making a fraudulent statement in medical records that the patient was in need of emergency surgery. The surgeon is said to have wrongfully prescribed painkillers and discharged the patient from the hospital without making sure, given the patient’s medical condition, that he would receive adequate oxygen outside of hospital care.

An investigation determined that the surgeon had seen an MRI provided by the patient’s other Montana doctors. However, that MRI had been prepared eight days before the surgeon saw it. Still, he did not order another one and instead said that emergency back surgery was needed. The surgeon performed the surgery on Nov. 28.

The patient was reportedly discharged on Dec. 1 with pain medication prescriptions from the surgeon. But after the patient and his wife returned to their home in Montana, his wife found him deceased the following morning.

The surgeon’s medical license is suspended while an investigation continues.

Residents in the Billings area who believe they may have been injured as a result of a doctor or hospital error may do well to explore all of the available options for obtaining due compensation. A personal injury can cause much pain and suffering, but that need not be compounded by the financial burdens of lost wages, high medical expenses or any other costs that may have resulted from the injury. In many cases, a medical malpractice claim can help alleviate those burdens.

Source: Billings Gazette, “Wyoming Board of Medicine suspends Cody doctor,” Jan. 31, 2012