Suicide After Hip Replacement [Content Warning]
There are 2 issues that I want readers to be aware of before proceeding:
This case deals with suicide and includes an excerpt from the patient’s suicide note. I usually do not find it appropriate to include these notes, but in this circumstance it specifically mentions the doctor in a way that helps illustrate the situation.
While researching this story, I discovered a set of facts that lead me to believe the doctor’s personal safety may have been at risk. Given recent events of patient-on-physician violence, I wanted to give readers a content warning.
A 54-year-old man developed left hip arthritis.
He was seen by Dr. B (orthopedic surgeon) and scheduled for surgery.
He underwent a left total hip arthroplasty in February 2016.
During the surgery, one of the screws was allegedly misplaced.
The following day, there was an incident in which his nurse “dropped” his leg, and he had worsening pain.
His recovery did not go as planned.
Months later he was still suffering from severe left hip pain.
In June 2016 he was seen by a different orthopedic surgeon, and underwent a revision.
For the next 18 months he continued to have pain and require crutches for ambulation.
He was unable to return to his work as a craftsman.
One day in late 2017, he disappeared from his house around 3pm.
He did not return that night, which was very unusual.
His family reported him missing.
A Silver Alert was issued by the police, and his disappearance was covered in several news articles.
The articles specifically state he was “reported to be depressed”.
Tragically, one week later he was found deceased, having died by suicide.
An excerpt from his suicide note specifically mentions Dr. B.
The autopsy listed the cause of death as “perforating gunshot wound of right temple with skull fractures and brain injuries”.
The patient’s family sued Dr. B and the hospital.
An expert witness was hired.
The patient’s wife was deposed.
The lawsuit is ongoing.
There have been no formal offers to settle.
It was filed in 2018 and there is still no trial scheduled.
Usually there’s not much left for me to say at this point.
The legal documents from the lawsuit generally include all the relevant information.
However, I made a stunning discovery while reviewing police reports and news articles.
They listed the address where the deceased patient was found.
Out of curiosity, I pulled it up on Google Street View.
Staring back at me was the front of Dr. B’s office.
Strangely, the significance of this location was not mention anywhere else. Not in the news reports, nor in this lawsuit.
We will never know if the patient had any homicidal intent, in addition to his suicidal intent.
But what we do know is summarized here:
The patient left home around 3pm.
He drove to Dr. B’s office.
He had a note specifically mentioning that he hated Dr. B.
He carried a loaded gun.
It’s an extremely disturbing set of circumstances.
Frankly I am grateful that Dr. B’s personal safety was not violated.
I am a little confused as to why this issue was not addressed in the lawsuit.
I’ll send updates via email when they become available.
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