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10 Doctors Who Shamed Their Profession

If you think about it, the comparison of doctors to mechanics is pretty apt. Given the specialized nature of their work and the general helplessness of most patients, doctors, like mechanics, are rarely held accountable for their actions. Sure, for the most part, doctors have your best interest at heart, but like in any profession, there are both good and bad apples. According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, 42 percent of people believed they had personally experienced a medical mistake. Additionally, numerous statistics have shown that a staggering amount of people die each year due to medical error. The following doctors made such blatant mistakes and/or lapses in judgment that they, at the very least, have a reputation that garnered them recognition on this list.

  1. Dr. Earl Bradley, Monster: Nothing is worse than violating the trust of a child, which is why Bradley, a former pediatrician from Lewes, Delaware, is such a monster. In February of 2010, he was indicted on 471 charges of child sex abuse involving 103 children. Initial allegations against Bradley surfaced during the mid-’90s, but the hospital for which he worked was unable to verify the claims. They were enough, however, to prompt him to move to Delaware, where more allegations surfaced a decade later, including that he had abused his own son. Bradley was initially arrested in December of 2009 after a year-long investigation, which prompted the indictments two months later.
  2. Dr. Robert Ricketson, Screw Up: Ricketson is no longer practicing medicine and the world is better for it. During a spine operation he performed on 73-year-old Arturo Iturralde in 2003, Ricketson intentionally inserted a piece of a screwdriver into the patient’s spine instead of a titanium rod. The rod he had intended to use went missing prior to the surgery, so he took it upon himself to improvise. As a result, Iturralde endured three additional surgeries to insert the proper rod and correct complications. After one of the operations, pieces of the screwdriver were recovered by nurses and the family was alerted. Iturralde became a paraplegic and died two years later, and his family was awarded $5.6 million in a malpractice lawsuit in 2006. During the aftermath, it was discovered that Ricketson’s medical license had been suspended in Oklahoma and Texas and he was denied consideration for a medical license in Kansas in 2002, a year after the botched surgery. He had previously been sued for malpractice several times and had history of narcotics abuse. Not a very impressive resume to say the least.
  3. Dr. Jan Adams, Plastic Surgeon Imposter: Adams is most famous for performing the breast augmentation surgery on Donda West, Kanye West’s mom, that resulted in her death in 2007. But that’s not the only blemish on his record. In a malpractice suit against Adams, a previous patient claimed that she didn’t receive proper preoperative or postoperative care, leading to an infection that needed two more surgeries. What’s more, one patient claimed he got her drunk after a surgery and impregnated her, and another claimed a surgical sponge was left inside of her after a breast augmentation. Adams, who attended Harvard University, never received his diploma despite apparently completing his academic requirements. He’s also not a board certified plastic surgeon despite claiming to be one. How was this guy getting work?
  4. Julie Ponder and Connell Watkins, Child Killers: Alternative medicine can be a risky proposition given the unproven nature of many of its methods. Attachment therapy in particular can yield tragic results when taken to an extreme. The treatment is used to remedy attachment disorders primarily suffered by adopted and fostered children who persistently misbehave or display little affection toward their new caregivers. In 2000, 10-year-old Candace Newmaker was killed during such treatment when she was suffocated during an intensive rebirthing session. Wrapped in a flannel sheet by psychotherapists Julie Ponder and Connell Watkins, she told to free herself from it while Ponder and Watkins held her down. She pleaded for her life, but was told by Ponder "You want to die? OK, then die. Go ahead, die right now." Newmaker was declared brain dead the next day due to asphyxia. The entire session was videotaped and presented as evidence against Ponder and Watkins, who were each given 16-year prison sentences — Watkins was paroled in 2008 after serving seven years.
  5. Dr. James Burt, Ghastly Gyno: The notorious Dr. Burt was exposed for his harmful and downright bizarre practices in the late 1980s when numerous former patients came forward and initiated lawsuits. Beginning in the late 1960s, Burt took it upon himself to perform "love surgeries" in which he altered his patients’ vulvas without their consent. He justified his work in a book he authored in 1975, explaining that "Women are structurally inadequate for intercourse. This is a pathological condition amenable by surgery." He stated the procedure turns them into "horny little mice," though in reality, many of them suffered sexual dysfunction, infection and required corrective surgeries as a result. A $21 million suit was filed against Burt that couldn’t have come close to covering the physical and emotional damages endured by the at least 40 women he hurt.
  6. Dr. Cecil Jacobson, Seed Spreader: As a fertility doctor, it was Dr. Jacobson’s duty to assist women in conceiving, and in the 1980s, it appeared he was doing a pretty good job. His patients reported high success rates due to his use of hCG, a hormone released during pregnancy that causes the typical bodily changes. During the supposed pregnancies initiated by hCG, he would identify the fetuses during an ultrasound, but they would usually "die" after about three months. Patients who suspected something was amiss informed a local television station, which investigated and exposed Jacobson. In the process, they discovered he used his semen to artificially inseminate patients who were told they were matched with an anonymous donor. Genetic testing later showed that he was the biological father of at least seven of his patients’ children. Jacobson, who won the Ig Nobel Prize for Biology in 1992 and claimed to have successfully oversaw the impregnation of a male baboon in the 1960s, was stripped of medical license and sentenced to five years in prison.
  7. Dr. Rolando R. Sanchez, Accidental Amputator: To be fair to Dr. Sanchez, he has done a fine job of rehabilitating his reputation after the costly mistake he oversaw in 1995 — in fact, he’s still practicing. Even still, it’s the kind of inexcusable error you’d never wish on your worst enemy. In the process of amputating Willie King’s leg, Sanchez was informed by a nurse that he had cut into the wrong one. It was too late, however, and he had to finish what he started — King would later have the original leg amputated by another doctor. Consequently, Sanchez was suspended on the grounds that he presented an "immediate and serious danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public," and King later settled with the hospital.
  8. Dr. Red Alinsod, Organ Tattoo Artist: Ingrid Paulicivic certainly won’t be recommending Dr. Alinsod given what occurred during her June 2009 hysterectomy. According to Paulicivic’s lawsuit, while putting the finishing touches on the surgery, Dr. Alinsod decided to brand his work by using an "electrocautery device to carve and burn" her name into her removed uterus. Alinsod claimed the move was necessary to ensure he wouldn’t confuse the uterus with others. Paulicivic became aware of the branding during a follow-up visit in which she complained of the resulting burns on her legs.
  9. Dr. Elias Hanna, Carvey Carver: Dr. Hanna nearly caused the premature death of yet another Saturday Night Live legend. In 1998, he botched Dana Carvey’s heart bypass surgery by connecting a healthy portion of his artery to a healthy diagonal vessel instead of the damaged arterial section. It wasn’t until two months after the operation that Hanna discovered the mistake, resulting in an emergency angioplasty for Carvey — his fourth in less than a year. Before it was corrected, he was susceptible to suffering a fatal heart attack. Carvey filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and eventually settled for $7.5 million.
  10. Alan Hutchinson, Dirty Dentist: Hutchinson, a dentist from Batley, West Yorkshire, UK, made headlines in 2007 when he was accused of using sterilized instruments to clean his ears and fingernails, working on teeth without washing his hands or using gloves, and urinating in a surgical sink. Complaints from a patient and his nurse, Claire Pygott, eventually led to a guilty verdict from the General Dental Council in London. Pygott said that she was "shocked, disgusted and appalled" by the dentist’s actions, which she had witnessed on more than one occasion.

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