Poor Infection Control This story is about a man in his twenties named Michael Skolnik. He was born in March of 1979 and died in June of 2004. He was the only child of his parents. It all started one day while he was doing normal activity, and he passed out in September of 2001. His parents took him to the hospital and a CT scan showed the slight possibility of a colloid cyst, but whatever the two to three millimeter dot was, it was not symptomatic. His mother consulted with a neurosurgeon who said that it was urgent to place Michael in ICU for observation.
The neurosurgeon said that Michael needed to have brain surgery within two days. It was supposed to be a three hour operation, and Michael was only supposed to have to spend six days in the hospital. The neurosurgeon explained to Michael’s mother that he had done many of these procedures before, and that he really didn’t even have to go inside Michael’s brain to remove the cyst. He said that the cyst was there and was blocking the cerebral spinal fluid from flowing. The three hour operation ended up lasting six hours without a cyst ever being found. Meanwhile, heavy manipulation had been done to Michael’s brain.
His “six day hospital stay” became five months in ICU, Twenty-two months in other medical institutions, and the last six months of his life at home, in his parent’s own ICU. Upon the hospital’s further examination of Michael’s CT scan, it became evident that the neurosurgeon’s pressure to rush Michael into surgery was unwarranted. This marked the beginning of a Thirty-two month long nightmare of brain surgeries, infections, pulmonary embolisms, respiratory arrest, vision impairment, paralysis, psychosis, severe seizure disorder, short-term memory loss, multiple organ failure, and near total dependence and disability.
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Michael could not eat, speak, or move anything but his right hand. Almost every day during this traumatic time, Michael was so miserable that he actually would use his sole limb control to shape his fingers into a gun, and hold them to his temple. This 6’4” EMT and nursing student was now totally helpless and had the cognitive ability of a third grader. Michael’s medical bills amounted to be 4. 5 million dollars, and his legal bills were just beginning. His parents listened to a doctor that had claimed to have performed many surgeries finally admit in a legal deposition that Michael’s procedure had only been his second surgery ever performed.
Despite all their attempts to research the doctor’s background, this was the first time they had ever heard the truth about his level of experience. They then knew they had to do something, knowing their son was never going to come back, but they wanted to make sure that it did not happen to anyone else’s family. Three years after Michael’s death this parent’s fought for physician profile transparency and disclosure in Colorado. They had found out that there were other medical malpractice cases pending and a number of formal complaints to the Board of Medical Examiners regarding this medical predator.
At that time, none of this background information was available to the public, so they worked to change that. On May 24, 2007 Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed into law “The Michael Skolnik Medical Transparency Act”, which became effective on January 2, 2008. In 2009 their organization Colorado Citizens for Accountability,” launched PatientsRightToKnow. org, which allows you to find out what physician background reporting is available to you in your state.
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