I was recently watching an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy, some of you may be familiar with the show. The main story-line which really got me thinking revolved around one of the surgeons getting sued. The suit resulted because the patient went in for a hip replacement surgery and due to multiple complications, ended up having his legs amputated. Now let me not leave out the fact that this patient was one of the top snowboarders in the world and well on his way to Olympic trials, so in essence his world had come to an end.
I’ve thought about similar situations before and wondered “what does someone do in such an instance?” The surgeon in question was indeed one of the best Orthopedic surgeons in the country (as per the show) but as we know, things don’t always go according to plan. How would you feel if you went to an expert for guidance on an issue and the advice they gave you turned out to be wrong. Should we be able to blame them because their advice didn’t work out in our favour due to unforeseen circumstances? You may already know what your answer to that question is, but for me it’s a constant battle.
Let’s take a look at another analogy, a lot of people use glasses or some form of eye prescription. Imagine you decide to try out laser eye surgery, finally getting that 20/20 vision. You talked through the procedure with your doctor and the appointment is booked. During the surgery, the doctor notices something that they didn’t originally catch in the previous eye exams and due to complications, you came out blind. Now there was no discussion beforehand that this was a possible outcome from the surgery, it just happened that something went wrong and the doctor made a call. What would you do in such a case?
I’ve had a few discussions with some friends about this topic and there have been different takes on what someone would do. You didn’t know it was a possibility that you would lose your legs after going in for a hip replacement or come out blind when you went in for a simple surgery. Others would argue: did the complication and ultimate outcome surface from a life threatening situation? If the surgeon used her best judgement and made the call that it was better to save your life by cutting off your legs, was that really her call to make? The snowboarder may have wanted to die instead of living the rest of his life in a wheelchair, so can we blame her for making that call? I don’t have an answer for this myself, but it’s something that’s weighed on my mind for quite a while.
Just some thoughts to ponder on.
Also if you’re interested in seeing the original story: Grey’s Anatomy – Season 10, Episode 9. Available on Netflix.