May 27, 2015
No matter how hard some people try to take care of their health, tragic accidents and diseases can still require painful treatments and surgery. John Timiriasieff faced this type of reality back in October of 2014 when doctors had to amputate his right leg beneath the knee at a hospital in Coral Gables, Florida.
Like most patients after a traumatic surgery, Mr. Timiriasieff surely wanted to just work on recuperating. Unfortunately, the 56-year-old Florida man wasn’t extended that basic right. Instead, he quickly learned the true meaning of “emotional distress” since Doctor’s Hospital failed to burn his amputated limb. Instead, they simply “tossed the leg into the garbage.” This foolish act would soon lead to an even more bizarre event.
A surprising visit from local homicide detectives
Instead of Mr. Timiriasieff’s leg just being buried in a local landfill, someone saw it and told the local police that the patient’s name tag was still attached to it. The police then sent two homicide detectives out to call upon this man at his home. They were quick to ask why his amputated limb was discovered at a local waste management facility. Few of us can even imagine the shock a person would feel with the police visiting us at home and asking such a question.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Timiriasieff contacted Doctor’s Hospital (part of the Baptist Health South Florida system) where part of his leg had been amputated last year. He naturally hoped to receive some type of polite explanation about what had happened. Perhaps concerned about potential legal action, the hospital simply responded that “they would provide no explanation for what had occurred.”
Given the level of “emotional distress” the homicide police visit must have caused him, Mr. Timiriasieff soon retained a lawyer.
A uniquely offensive case of medical negligence
Had the hospital chosen to respond with a small degree of humility and even apologized for its error, no lawsuit might have been pursued. After all, no human being should have to account for the whereabouts of his or her discarded body parts after surgery.
Should this case ever go to trial, a judge is likely to take the plaintiff’s claims of “emotional distress” (given the visit by the homicide cops) and “invasion of privacy” quite seriously. This same court may also frown upon the hospital’s attempts to minimize the trauma its employees inflicted upon this patient.
In view of all that’s taken place, Mr. Timiriasieff’s lawyer appears fully justified in stating in his client’s complaint that the hospital’s negligent behavior “was outrageous and beyond all bounds of human decency – and utterly intolerable in civilized society.”
By Elizabeth Smith, freelance writer and graduate of the University of Texas Law School
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