Defense Verdict for Proctor in Florence County Robotic Surgery
On March 8, 2013 a Florence County, South Carolina jury returned a defense verdict for a CCS client and nationally renowned specialist in the field of robotic surgery. Our client was named in a multi-party lawsuit over complications following a robotic prostatectomy in 2007. The physician was serving as the surgical proctor for the two primary surgeons, who were completing their eighth robotically assisted prostatectomy. Undetected by the primary surgeons, a portion of the patient’s prostate gland remained inside the patient’s body after the surgery. The primary surgeon subsequently chose to irradiate the patient, which resulted in radiation-induced urinary strictures and resultant bladder diversion.Our physician client contended that, as a proctor, he did not have a physician/patient relationship in his role. We presented evidence that the client never met the patient prior to surgery, was not given hospital privileges to participate in the surgery or a temporary medical license in South Carolina. He also contended that the error in leaving prostate tissue behind was one that could not be detected visually by anyone observing the surgery outside the controls of the robot. Plaintiff sought $4,500,000 in damages at trial. All other defendants settled or were dismissed prior to trial.After a one week trial, the jury exonerated the physician by a special verdict form finding that no physician/patient relationship existed between the proctor and the patient. Carlock Copeland Attorneys Gary Lovell, Lee Weatherly and Kristen Kelley represented the physician at this trial. This victory will help ensure that proctors and other teachers in the medical field can continue to come to South Carolina and share specialty knowledge and new medical technology and techniques without fear of implication in the alleged malpractice of other providers.