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New Mexico hospital settles $33 million in malpractice claims

About 80 medical malpractice claims filed against doctors at a New Mexico hospital were recently settled, with compensation for injured patients totaling over $33 million. Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamagordo had filed for bankruptcy because of the claims, and according to the settlement, the hospital will now come out of bankruptcy protection.

The medical malpractice claims centered around an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist who falsified his credentials to operate on patients. This led to the doctor injecting a Plexiglas-like cement into patients' spines. The cement was intended to relieve spinal pain but ended up causing debilitating injuries. The substance apparently leaked into other sections of the patients' spines before hardening.

The corruption following the unsafe procedures is also unsettling. A nurse who reported problems with the back surgeries was told "to leave things as they are," and the hospital sided with the anesthesiologist when an insurance company refused to pay for his procedures. The hospital even threatened to sue the insurance company.

Two years passed, and former patients started filing lawsuits. The victims complained of debilitating injury and pain, partial paralysis, and loss of bladder and bowel functions.

Another doctor who was also a defendant even knew that the anesthesiologist had falsified his credentials. In his deposition, the doctor went on to say that he now believes that the anesthesiologist was not qualified to perform the surgeries, that he incorrectly billed for procedures and that he made false statements about his previous training.

Medical malpractice cases like this one make people everywhere suspicious of doctors. That is truly unfortunate, since the vast majority of medical professionals are reliable and good at what they do. Still, Albuquerque residents who have been harmed by doctor error or hospital negligence should be aware of their rights under our state's medical malpractice laws.

If you would like to know more about claims of hospital negligence, feel free to visit our New Mexico hospital negligence site. Our firm helps injured patients get the compensation they deserve.

Source: Claims Journal, "80 Malpractice Claims at New Mexico Hospital Settled," July 31, 2012

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