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.
(Staff writer Jessica Hauser can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 505-1277 or on Twitter @jmthauser. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to thecabin.net. Send us your news at thecabin.net/submit.)