Thursday, December 13, 2007

Did This Man Kill Kanye's Mom? - By Andrea Johnson

He’s been called the killer of Dr. Donda West, mother of Kanye West, who died after undergoing surgery at his private practice in California. The California Board of Medicine wants to revoke his license to practice as a result of DUI’s. He walked off on America’s favorite nighttime host.

He’s been labeled a quack, a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, and a negligent uncertified surgeon.l However, Dr. Jan Adams is also a graduate of Harvard College and the Ohio School of Medicine. He is an author, lecturer, television personality, and has developed a line of skin care products for women of color. In his general surgery residency at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, he served as chief surgical resident from 1989-1990. From 1991 to 1992, he also served as chief resident in plastic surgery during his plastic and reconstructive surgery training at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

But Dr. Adams is probably most well-known for hosting Discovery Health Channel’s, “Plastic Surgery: Before and After.” He has also appeared on Oprah, and as an expert on some major news shows. Although degrees and awards are impressive, his legal resume is peppered with malpractice suits, client complaints, and threats of a revoked license. His most recent press time has been spent defending himself against accusations of causing the death of Kanye West’s mother.

In the spotlight of tragedy, flaws in Dr. Adams’s background have been exposed. Is he truly a poor surgeon or simply the scapegoat for the unfortunate death of a celebrity?

How many people die from plastic surgery?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that death from cosmetic plastic surgeries remains rare, occurring in one of 57,000 cases. About 2 million such surgeries were done in the United States in 2005. Still, there are a large number of uncertified plastic surgeons in private practices that are not required to submit their numbers to ASPS. Experts believe that number is much higher.

What about Dr. Adams’ malpractice issues?
Dr. Adams legal record in recent years doesn’t speak well of his capabilities. In a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court on October 31, 2007, Rhonda McClain claims Dr. Adams and Euclid Outpatient Surgery Center were responsible for "mental, physical and nervous pain and suffering." McClain’s surgery was completed on March 10, 2007. She told TMZ that she was left with one implant and nearly bled to death.
In another lawsuit against Dr. Adams, McClain claimed to have been "negligently and carelessly examined, diagnosed, cared for, treated and performed surgery upon plaintiff, failing to follow the standard care …" The patient Terri Cage alleges she was "rendered sick, sore, lame and disabled" from her surgeries.

Bonita Hovey, another patient receiving a tummy tuck, filed a suit claiming Dr. Adams and other doctors "negligently failed to possess and exercise, in both diagnosis and treatment, that reasonable degree of knowledge and skill that is ordinarily possessed and exercised by other physicians and surgeons …” As a result of poor postoperative care she contracted an infection that led to two more surgeries to remove sutures and revise her scar.
In yet another malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Jan Adams, Jana Beighle claims no one mentioned the malpractice claims against the doctor. She felt deceived by Dr. Adams and Euclid Outpatient Surgery Center. After her surgery in August 2005, she suffered from fluid collection and had to have her implants removed.
Even experts make mistakes. How often does this happen?

Dr. Adams isn’t alone in his malpractice problems. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the 75 largest counties in the United States, almost 50 percent of all medical malpractice trials are against surgeons. Furthermore, in approximately 26 percent of those cases, the settlement was given to the plaintiff. A new study has shown that most settlement cases are tied directly to merit and the quality of care, which seems to be an obvious answer, but hasn’t always been the case. Some lawyers have claimed settlements in malpractice suits are a ‘lottery”, where fault and the settlement are not related. The stronger a case is in the lack of care the patient has received, the more likely that a settlement is offered.

Dr. DiSaia, a board certified surgeon in California diagnoses the problem rather concisely, “Here is a very simple malpractice synopsis: “Medical malpractice is not bad outcome or complication but is inadequate training (didn't know how to do it) inadequate informed consent (didn't tell you the risks) error in technique (did it wrong), error in care (didn't diligently follow test results, treat problems, etc). These things are hard to prove.” Both parties should have one main thing priority : the patient’s overall health . The patient’s best interests equal that of the surgeon’s, because if something goes wrong, then he or she is often to blame. That means keeping the patient informed or even saying no large amounts of money. The patient has to honestly digest the risks and decide what they are willing to do.

So who do we blame?

Adams told People Magazine that the 11 malpractice suits uncovered by TMZ don't represent his deficiencies as a surgeon, but instead, "represent a bad decision in terms of choice of patient."

While some critics interpret this remark as a lack of responsibility or remorse, other experts agree with this viewpoint. Dr. DiSaia fromLocation: San Clemente, California, is a board certified plastic surgeon in San Clemente, Ca. His blogs are designed to help readers learn from the outcomes of other cosmetic surgery patients. DiSaia believes, “One of the most difficult things for people to understand in health care seems to be the fact that bad outcomes and malpractice suits do not always constitute poor or negligent care. Often the choice to operate upon an inappropriate patient is the surgeon's biggest mistake. Some people are in poor health, smoke and/or take poor care of themselves or simply have unrealistic expectations. These are often "no win propositions" for the surgeon.”
On his website,, Dr. DiSaia expounded on his view, stating “If you have a bad outcome or a wound healing problem, this is not necessarily malpractice. People don't understand that when things go wrong, it is not always because something was done incorrectly.”

He adds, “Sometimes people kinda "ask for problems." An example is the case in which a very small woman asks for really large breast implants. We all know that going beyond a certain volume for a given patient increases the possibility of a poor outcome. I turn these patients away. Other surgeons operate on them figuring that it is their problem. These rules are not carved in stone. They are all relative. So when the woman has problems later on down the line and complains about her surgeon, malpractice will probably not be found. I have had patients like this that I have turned away return after their surgery with Dr "X" blaming him for their ugly breasts. I had warned them of the problems of the really large implants …and refused to do the surgery. These women chose the doctor that would do as they asked and got that which I had predicted. Is that the other surgeon's fault?”

It could be that Jan Adams has poor judgment, trouble saying no, or even too much confidence in his ability to overcome risks. It could also be that his patients are ill-informed, unwilling to hear advice, or wanting the quickest fix so badly, they forget (refuse to acknowledge) that minor surgery still presents risks---especially if you are not currently in good health. Whatever the case, Dr. Adams has cost himself over $500,000 in settlement money and a solid reputation.


Other Stories on Kanye West and Donda West:
What Killed Kanye West's Mother? - Andrea Hodges
Donda West was My Mother Too - Dr. Boyce Watkins


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