Steadman-Hawkins sued for surgery mishap
pitkin county correspondent
VAIL ” A Snowmass Village woman filed a lawsuit Monday against the acclaimed Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail for allegedly messing with the wrong digit.
Jessica VanLieshout claims she sought help from the clinic after she cut her left index finger while slicing an avocado in her home June 9, 2003. During surgery later that month at the Vail Valley Surgery Center something allegedly went awry.
VanLieshout said she went into surgery with a splint and bandage on the correct finger ” the injured left index finger. When she recovered consciousness there was a bandage on her left middle finger.
“Upon noticing the wrong finger had been bandaged, Plaintiff inquired to the nursing staff as to why the bandage was on the wrong finger,” states the lawsuit, prepared for VanLieshout by Aspen attorney James R. True. It was filed in Eagle District Court.
VanLieshout claims that Dr. Randall Viola, an orthopedic hand specialist at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic, admitted to her that the wrong finger had been operated on. VanLieshout was taken into surgery again and the left index finger was repaired.
“Dr. Viola explained to Plaintiff that he would ‘take care of her medical bills,'” according to the lawsuit.
But to add insult to injury, VanLieshout claims she was charged for the surgery to the wrong finger. She was billed $2,560 by Viola; her insurance company paid $1,160.
She incurred additional charges from the clinic for surgery allegedly performed by assistant surgeon Mike Outslay.
VanLieshout claims Viola, Outslay, the clinic and the surgery center are responsible for her medical bills due to their alleged negligence. She is also seeking punitive damages.
“Defendants acted with a wanton or reckless disregard for the rights and feelings of the Plaintiff,” said the lawsuit. “Defendants conduct, therefore, entitles the Plaintiff to exemplary damages in an amount to be determined at a later date.”
VanLieshout claims that the wrong finger was prepared for the operation at the surgery center. She said she never gave consent for surgery to her middle finger.
True declined further comment on the lawsuit.
Messages left at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic seeking comment were not returned.
The lawsuit contends that records show that Viola didn’t recommend any treatment for VanLieshout’s left middle finger when he first assessed her injuries. But in a report made four months after the surgery, Viola said that VanLieshout had deep lacerations to both her middle and index fingers. His report indicates that the laceration on the middle finger was explored and the damage noted but action wasn’t required.
VanLieshout’s said the middle finger wasn’t hurt. VanLieshout is seeking unspecified damages.
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