A 38-year old Burmese man who went into a Des Moines, Iowa, hospital for a circumcision and was given a vasectomy instead has been awarded $2 million by a jury.
Despite bringing in a letter of referral to The Iowa Clinic and having instructions faxed to doctors in advance to make sure there was no confusion, Zaw Zaw, 38, found himself the victim of the unfortunate misunderstanding that left him unable to reproduce, according to CBS News affiliate WTKR.
The victim’s lawyer, Marc Harding, argued that those steps should have assured Zaw Zaw proper medical treatment despite any language barriers. According to Harding, the faxed instructions were shredded and the medical clinic failed to communicate properly what was being done. Even after the botched January 2016 operation, he said the clinic continued blaming Zaw Zaw.
“Zaw Zaw never understood what they were trying to get across and that was their duty and their job to get that across,” Harding said.
The jury agreed that Zaw Zaw bore some responsibility for the mix-up, but ruled the surgeon, Dr. Kevin Birusingh, was 70% responsible in their seven-figure judgement. The compensation gave Zaw Zaw $1 million for past physical and mental pain and suffering, $500,000 for past loss of function of the body, $250,000 for future loss of function of the body and $250,000 for future physical and mental pain and suffering.
“Dr. Birusingh, he was the professional, he was the one that should have made sure because he was the one cutting on the body,” Harding said.
The Iowa Clinic released a statement distancing itself from Birusingh.
“We are grateful for the jury’s hard work and are pleased that no fault in this matter was assigned to the Iowa Clinic. It is important to note, the physician involved in this case has not been on staff with the clinic for more than a year.”
Zaw Zaw plans to go elsewhere to have the circumcision performed and to have the vasectomy reversed. Birusingh has also moved on to another medical center.
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