BELIZE CITY, Wed. June 10, 2015–A number of Belizeans have suffered silently at the hands of doctors who perform surgery on them or prescribe medicines that have worsened their condition. Some have even lost their lives. Lawsuits for medical malpractice, however, are scarcely pursued by Belizeans in the courts.
Nevertheless, one woman who had a laparoscopic surgery performed at Belize Medical Associates on December 18, 2009 and almost lost her life has decided to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who performed the surgery.
Case management in claim #154 of 2013 filed by Alice Arana-Gillett against Dr. George Gough took place before Supreme Court Justice Courtenay Abel last Friday, and dates were agreed upon by her attorney and Dr. Gough’s attorney, for expert witnesses to testify in the case. The attorneys also agreed on dates for written submission and the court also accepted into evidence for the case, a number of witness statements.
The case is scheduled to be argued on July 22 and 23. Arana-Gillett is being represented by attorney Nazira Myles and Dr. Gough is being represented by attorney Naima Barrow.
After the court hearing, Arana-Gillett told Amandala that she underwent an initial surgery, which was followed by a second surgery. It was after the second surgery that her family decided to take her to Chetumal, Mexico.
In Chetumal, Arana-Gillett said, she and her family learned that her bile duct connection was split in error, in the first surgery.
“In the second surgery, they corrected that error by doing a bypass to help the error that was done in the first surgery,” Arana-Gillett said.
In recounting what happened after those surgeries, Arana-Gillett said, “I was in and out of the hospital for two months, after which my family decided to change and took me to another hospital and the doctor decided to send me out the country to see a bile specialist.”
Arana-Gillett said her insurance and she and her family covered the cost of going outside the country.
“If I didn’t go outside, I would not have been here right now,” she added.
“The surgery outside cost me US$28,000 and the two surgeries in Belize cost me over $30,000,” Arana-Gillett explained.
She said that if the first surgery had been properly done, her total medical costs would only have been $6,000.
“It should have been a minor surgery; so much people have done this surgery and you’re up and running in a few days. I did the surgery in December and it was not until April of the following year that I was up and running,” Arana-Gillett said.
In outlining the claim against Gough, Attorney Myles said, “The claim is seeking damages for my client for medical negligence which we are saying the defendant, Dr. Gough, is responsible for.”
Myles went on to say, “The court has asked us to hand in submissions giving an estimate of the amount of damage we are asking for, and it ranges around $300,000, but that is just an estimate.
“It includes general damages which cover for her pain and suffering, and it also includes her special damages, which include her expenses, anything we can prove to the court,” Myles said.
Myles further explained, “The case for the claimant started, but we haven’t closed our case as yet, because we want to cross-examine a doctor who is coming from the States and also the independent expert in the matter.”
“The doctor we are bringing from the US is the doctor who did the final surgery on my client. The independent expert was chosen by the court; he is a doctor within Belize, because initially we had tried to get a doctor from the British Virgin Islands, but he recused himself and this contributed to the delay in getting the case started,” Myles disclosed.
Myles said that her client had gone to several attorneys, but they did not want to take on the case due to political considerations.