Truck driver Phillip Seaton, 64, of Mount Eden, Kentucky, went in for a standard circumcision procedure, when Dr. John Patterson of Jewish Hospital Shelbyville in Frankfort, Kentucky, noticed a cancerous tumor during surgery. He performed a partial amputation without waking Seaton to ask for his permission, expecting to discover a fungal infection.
Seaton sued Dr. Patterson for $16 million. He and his wife, Deborah, had already sued Jewish Hospital Shelbyville and the anesthesiologist, and settled for an undisclosed amount. This Wednesday, the jury decided in favor of Dr. Patterson in Shelby County Circuit Court, near Louisville. They unanimously decided that the doctor had exercised proper care. They also voted 10-2 against Mr. Seaton that he had not consented to the amputation.
The plaintiffs plan to appeal. Several issues remain uncertain. First, a doctor can change a procedure mid-operation only if the patient's life or health is in peril, according to Seaton's lawyer. Experts on both sides disagree on this question. Also up for debate is whether Dr. Patterson should have awoken the patient to obtain his permission.
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