When one thinks of medical malpractice, they often think of mistakes that happen during surgeries and births. But most people don't assume that doctors maliciously injure their patients. But one case in another state is doing just that.
A 69-year-old Native American man is alleging that doctors carved the letters "KKK" into his abdomen while he was having heart surgery. In pictures of the man's chest, it is clear that there is much more scarring on his chest than is normal. This is not a simple case of surgical error, the lawsuit alleges. At a rally in his hometown, people said the scars show the racism that Native Americans still face.
The hospital is vigorously denying the charges, noting that no criminal charges were filed and that every scar he has can be explained. The hospital's attorney also said that the man, who is blind, only filed the federal lawsuit after speaking with friends who told him what they saw.
A man speaking on behalf of the plaintiff acknowledged that some scarring does happen with many surgeries, noting that heart surgery usually leaves a scar above the sternum.
"What we cannot expect is haphazard slashes all over the abdomen as well as some cuts that seem to form letters of the alphabet," the man said.
The man's lawsuit also claims that the hospital did not provide him with pain medication. A YouTube video showing the scars went viral, which gained the man a great deal of support in the Native American community.
This is a complicated case, but the man does have a right to pursue his case if he feels like he has been unnecessarily disfigured from his surgery.
Source: Associated Press, "Vern Traversie Says Hospital Gave Him 'KKK' Surgical Scars; Hospital Denies Accusations," Kristi Eaton, Aug. 1, 2012