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Monday, October 8, 2007

The surgeon later admitted he was addicted: A spinal surgery lawsuit

Demian McElhinny, 33, a former hospice pharmacy technician in El Paso, recently settled claims against a neurological surgeon for spinal surgery that left him and his family impoverished. He said he emerged with "pennies on the dollar." His wife, Kelly, found work as a school bus driver, he said, while "I'm at home being a housewife to my two boys."

Demian's surgeon, Dr. Paul Henry Cho, later admitted to the medical board that he was addicted to a narcotic cough syrup and had written fraudulent prescriptions. Dr. Cho's license to prescribe drugs was suspended, although it was soon restored, and he moved from El Paso to a hospital in Fort Worth.

Demian collected so little because four years ago, Texas voters passed an amendment to the state constitution that limits malpractice awards.

Advice to victims of malpractice: If state law prevents you from collecting for your injury, your best form of accountability may be telling your story to the public.

Read another neurosurgical error story, or read the source story by Ralph Blumenthal in the October 5, New York Times.

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