SURGICAL PATIENT DEMANDS ERROR DISCLOSURE
Log Cabin Democrat
February 12, 2015
A Conway man protesting outside a medical practice Thursday on Dave Ward Drive said he wants new legislation for patients’ rights to know when damage to structure occurs during surgery.
James Blazier said he can no longer operate his business efficiently after Dr. James Calhoun of Central Arkansas Neurosurgery inserted a screw in his vertebra to support his cervical spine. He said the screw was inserted so low that it could not support his spine, causing him to collapse unexpectedly four months after returning to work as a printing press electrical technician.
“He should have told me,” Blazier said. “I went back to see him to discuss the screw. I asked him if it was part of the problem and why he didn’t tell me. He didn’t answer the question and told me to get physical therapy.”
In correspondence to Representative French Hill and Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, Blazier wrote that he looked up and to the left and experienced sharp pain, numbness and loss of some function. He said he has not been the same since this happened.
Attorney Tre Kitchens, who represents Calhoun, said Calhoun visited with Blazier many times, and Blazier is trying to smear his name. “Mr. Blazier is unhappy. I hate that for him and I’m sorry, but my client did nothing wrong,” Kitchens said. “Mr. Blazier did not exercise his legal rights. If there had been a legal claim, he would have had an opportunity to have his case heard in court. But this was years ago and it’s now two years outside of the statute of limitations.”
Blazier said the statute expired while he sought medical assistance from other neurosurgeons, all of whom declined to interfere with another physician’s care on the basis of “professional courtesy.”
He said he also contacted injury attorneys who told him a screw in the neck is not medical malpractice.
“If it had been a case, someone would have taken it,” Kitchens said. He said the Arkansas Medical Board investigated the incident after being contacted by Blazier and found no evidence of violation of the Arkansas Medical Practices Act. The board closed the case.
“[Calhoun] responded to the complaint with a letter in which he stated that one of his colleagues looked at the x-ray and agreed with him that the vertebra was not fractured. Case closed,” Blazier said. He said Calhoun was not required to identify the colleague or provide any evidence.
Kevin O’Dwyer, attorney for the Arkansas State Medical Board, said such a letter would probably not be enough evidence to close an investigation. He said this sounded more like a quality of care complaint, but he was not familiar with specifics of the situation. “Typically, we ask the doctor to respond. Sometimes we ask them to provide medical documents. The board looks at a case in light of burden of proof – did the activity rise to gross negligence or ignorant malpratice?” O’Dwyer said.
Blazier said there will be more protests in the coming weeks in Conway and North Little Rock.
March 21, 2015
“North Little Rock Neurosurgeon Sues Former Patient For Defamation”
Jessica Hauser, Log Cabin Democrat
A North Little Rock neurosurgeon is suing a former patient for defamation after the patient protested and distributed pages of negative comments about him at his Conway location on Dave Ward Drive.
Dr. James Calhoun of Central Arkansas Neurosurgery has filed a lawsuit against James Blazier, requesting a jury trial and compensatory damages for the toll his actions have taken on the physician’s practice.
“This man is going around lying and slandering and defaming [Calhoun] and hurting his practice when he has done nothing wrong. We’ve given him every opportunity to stop, and he won’t,” said Attorney Tre Kitchens, who represents Calhoun. He said the lawsuit is a response to not only the protest, but also to the damage that Blazier has caused Calhoun’s practice as a result of contacting patients with false claims about the neurosurgeon.
The documents filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court read that Blazier made false claims about a procedure Calhoun performed on his C6-7 and C5-6 vertebrae to the Log Cabin Democrat, citizens who witnessed the protest, patients in the waiting room of Calhoun’s office, Representative French Hill, and Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton.
Blazier said one of the vertebra was broken, but Calhoun said he and another neurosurgeon agreed that an X-ray of the area showed no breakage.
“In today’s world, people feel emboldened to say whatever they want, and that’s not the law,” Kitchens said. “You can’t defame somebody, you can’t run your mouth about something that’s not true, and there are consequences for those actions.”
Blazier filed a complaint with the Arkansas Medical Board on Feb. 1, 2013, requesting an investigation into the matter. According to a document from the board, members of the board addressed the complaint at their meeting on April 4 and 5, 2013, and they found no evidence of violation of the Arkansas Medical Practices Act.
Blazier said he asked other neurosurgeons to interpret the X-ray, but each physician he contacted declined to interfere on another physician’s care on the basis of “professional courtesy.”
“I’m glad for a jury trial,” said Blazier, a U.S. Navy veteran. “I’ve been waiting a long time to get in front of the right people. I’m just thankful to the U.S. taxpayers who made it possible for me to get care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. They’ve gotten me to where I am now.”
He said he has contacted Sen. Jason Rapert regarding legislation requiring physicians to disclose errors made during medical procedures, extending the statute of limitations for filing malpractice suits and changing policies on medical licensing in Arkansas.
“I don’t think he has any business practicing medicine in Arkansas given his history,” he said.
According to a stipulated order signed by Calhoun, Calhoun surrendered his Oregon medical license in 2004 after pleading guilty to a class A misdemeanor harassment charge.
“What happened over a decade ago in another state has nothing to do with Mr. Blazier,” Kitchens said. “My client has worked very hard to build his reputation here, and he’s a good doctor. He’s a caring doctor. Now we have to take measures to preserve that reputation.”
A motion hearing has been set for April 2 in Pulaski County Circuit Court.