The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Page 11A,
March 17, 2000.

Patient for heart bypass sues over circumcision

Advocate staff writer

A man who underwent surgery for a bypass at Earl K. Long Medical Center has sued saying the hospital circumcised him without his consent.

The hospital has said the circumcision was a necessary part of the bypass surgery, which was not completed because of complications.

Robert Banks sued the hospital and Dr. Mary Jo Wright on Wednesday in 19th Judicial Court.

Banks says in the suit that he woke up from surgery on Aug. 15, 1995, and discovered he'd been circumcised.

His attorney, Alicia Hoover, says no one ever discussed the possibility of a circumcision with Banks.

"It's troubling," Hoover said. "I don't think anyone who goes in for bypass surgery would ever expect or anticipate (they) would wake up and find that they've been circumcised."

But the state Attorney General's Office has said in court documents that the circumcision was a necessary procedure.

Earl K. Long Medical Center is a state hospital.

The state says in documents filed in response to an earlier suit that a bladder catheterization to monitor kidney function was necessary to the bypass.

A circumcision had to be performed in order to do the catheterization, the documents say.

However, doctors had to close up Banks' chest without performing the bypass because of complications that arose during the surgery.

Hoover says Banks is now too terrified to undergo any further surgeries.

Banks first filed suit in 1996 alleging medical battery.

The state argued he was actually alleging medical malpractice and needed to first go before the state medical review panel.

State District Judge Curtis Calloway ruled the circumcision was medical battery, not medical malpractice.

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal later reversed the ruling.

The appellate court said Banks' lawsuit involved medical malpractice and would first have to be submitted to the state medical review panel.

Judge Brady Fitzsimmons dissented, saying the surgical team could have awakened Banks and gotten his permission for the circumcision.

Hoover said Thursday that the state medical review panel concluded malpractice had not been committed. That decision cleared the way for Banks to proceed with a lawsuit.

Barry Toups, a state assistant attorney general, said the circumcision was neither medical battery nor medical malpractice.

(File revised 26 January 2003)

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