Actor Bill Paxton, who is famed for his roles in “Aliens,” “Titanic” and other notable films, died a few days after having heart surgery at the tender age of 61 — and his family believes the death was needless.
As a result, family members have filed a wrongful death claim against both his surgeon and the hospital where he was treated. They allege that both misrepresented or hid the risks of the surgery, which was a risky and unusual approach for his condition. In addition, they allege that the surgeon was too inexperienced to attempt that particular surgery. Complications from the surgery directly led to the actor’s death — which is officially listed as the result of a stroke.
When a surgeon or a hospital hides information a patient needs to make a decision about his or her own care, that deprives a patient of the ability to give informed consent for the procedure. By law, the information they offer patients should be given in plain language and cover not only the proposed treatment but any inherent risks.
The patient is also supposed to be given an understanding of any alternative forms of treatment, if any exist, and an explanation of what would happen if no action is taken. That’s why most hospitals ask patients to sign consent papers after a treatment is discussed — to prove that the information was given and the patient understood the risks.
For a doctor to attempt a procedure that is beyond his or her skill level is simply negligence. Doctors are expected to know what they can and cannot reasonably do — and limit themselves to their area of expertise. That’s why specialists are often called in to consult or assist on complicated procedures or serious cases.
Anyone can become a victim of this kind of medical negligence. In their rush to commit someone to a course of treatment, doctors and hospitals both sometimes pressure patients to sign — knowing they aren’t truly aware of the risks. If your family member has died after a medical procedure and you believe he or she wasn’t adequately informed of the risks — or the physician overestimated his or her skill — it’s wisest to explore your legal options.
Source: CNN Entertainment, “Bill Paxton’s family files wrongful death suit,” Sandra Gonzalez, Feb. 13, 2018