Florida hospital patients say they were injured during surgeries. Now a physician faces 350 lawsuits.


A retired orthopedic surgeon who worked at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Ascension St. Vincent's Riverside Hospital has faced hundreds of complaints that went ignored by the hospital, NBC News reported July 29.

Six things to know: 

1. Richard Heekin, MD, was a hip and knee replacement specialist who retired in 2020. Alleged complaints against him say he injured patients during surgeries between 2016 and 2020.

2. Alleged errors have led to bone fractures, ruptured tendons and severed nerves, the report said, citing court documents. In one case, a 70-year-old woman died after she suffered a fracture in her femur during surgery. Another patient was left with one leg shorter than the other after Dr. Heekin allegedly chose the wrong size femoral implant for a hip replacement.

3. Dr. Heekin had progressive supranuclear palsy, which can cause problems with walking, balance and eye movements, according to NBC News. There was no indication whether the hospital knew he may have the condition.

4. Physicians and nurses said they were concerned about Dr. Heekin's ability to practice. However, the hospital allegedly "forced at least one nurse who asked not to be in the room with him to continue to perform surgery with Heekin when she knew it was a risk to patient safety."

5. So far, 350 lawsuits have been filed, and more are expected in 2022. The first trial is scheduled for August 2023.

6. Ascension and Dr. Heekin's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Becker's.

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