Jack's Before and After Ghost Surgery Pictures Below
Our 11 year-old, profoundly disabled son Jack, was a victim of a ghost surgery in November, 2019. It occurred at a reputable teaching hospital, The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. We trusted them with our hearts and our son had been under their care for years. We flew over 600 miles for a world-renowned surgeon, as Jack was born medically complex. The x-ray below, taken by our local children's hospital a few years ago, show what was inside our son's head and chest. The surgery we flew to Mayo for was to take out the batteries in his chest and replace them with new ones. Because the batteries are attached to wires that lead to rods in the brain, we chose not to use our local children's hospital but instead stick with the surgeon with ALL the experience and who'd put Jack's system in initially in 2013. He'd also performed Jack's previous battery replacements. The pictures below show the batteries on the right and what they lead to on the left. Oh how we wish we had stayed home and had Cincinnati Children's do it. There the attending would have certainly been present and more than likely, the one to perform it.
Our nonverbal, profoundly disabled son had a stroke on the operating table at six months old. Due to epilepsy, all lobes on the right side of his brain had to be partially or completely removed by ten months of age. Because he had no room for preventable medical errors, we choose "the best in the nation." What we entered was a bait and switch. Worse, it was pulled by the surgeon who knew Jack, his history and that we flew there, personally for him.
To state it more simply, it was a horse and pony show. I personally called to schedule Jack's surgery with Dr. Lee, and Dr. Lee only. I didn't call and say, "Hello! I'd like to schedule Jack's surgery with someone from Dr. Lee's service team." Who says that? NO ONE. And the appointment card we were given for that surgery??? It didn't just name the famous world surgeon as the primary surgeon who would PERFORM the surgery but also named TWO FIRST ASSISTANTS!!!
Three surgeons...six watchful eyes...What more could we ask for?
Dr. Lee, the surgeon we HIRED, met with us the day before surgery to go over the surgery, see Jack and share the risks and benefits. There wasn't much risk...less than 1% per battery site he boasted, his own famous infection rate...that he documented in his own clinic note... Oh how happy we were to see him once again! We asked if we could take his picture with Jack now that he'd become so famous, he had a star role in Netflix's documentary, "The Mayo Clinic." Dr. Lee obliged and I took a picture that I thought I'd forever cherish, his talented hand resting on the top of our son's head.
We knew it was a teaching hospital. Teaching hospitals have some of the best doctors and surgeons in the nation. We knew the assistants listed on the appointment card were residents and were completely fine with them being present, assisting and learning with Dr. Lee. However, the thought that Dr. Lee didn't intended to perform the surgery, nor that he wouldn't show up until the end of our son's surgery, never crossed our mind. We'd never heard of such a thing. But we know now this happens all the time and not just at The Mayo Clinic in MN. Unfortunately, it's happening every day at hospitals all over the country.
So much of this "show" went on behind the scenes but the final finale was when Dr. Lee came out after the surgery, in scrubs, to tell me Jack's surgery went great. Dr. Lee used the pronoun "we" in everything he described. "We did.... and we also did..." He told us it wouldn't be long before we'd be called back to recovery and that was it. Another performance and another hooked fish. The outcome however, quite different. This time THEY got caught.
When my mother and I got back to Jack in postop, all hell was unleashed. We'd find out later the resident forgot to give our son a local anesthetic.The CRNA who reviewed his med list the day before, as well as the anesthesiologist who reviewed his meds the day of, both failed to notice our son was on an opioid inhibitor that had been prescribed by our son's psychiatrist at home due to self-injury related to food. For over an hour 5 people held him down while his voiceless body thrashed, screamed, kicked, wailed. He went over an hour without pain management, the three doses of fentanyl unable to do anything to help. Thankfully one of the nurses who'd been helping to hold him down suggested we review his medication list. The records for that day? Well, someone from the hospital removed the medication off of his meds given that day.
Although surgical notes were posted the day after surgery, they were removed within 48 hours. We sent an email through the patient portal asking why they'd been removed and asked for them to be put back up. They were later put back up but they were not the same records. Dr. Lee didn't sign the operative report for five days. We believe that's because with one quick review he realized the resident royally screwed up. But it wasn't the resident who royal screwed up. Dr. Lee referred us to a resident, without our permission, who then referred us back to Dr. Lee for the "consult" and "preop," (for the show). This way, the resident could perform the surgery and get PAID for it...all without our knowledge or permission.
We are still trying to determine if the resident performed this surgery during his off time (which is called moonlighting) to get paid or if fraud took place and the resident was working for the hospital at the time as a resident during his training period (which would be double dipping). We learned from the hospital later, and only when pressured from legal retribution, that Dr. Lee wasn't performing any kind of surgical role that day but instead, his job was of a consultant. He was billing under something called an Evaluation and Management Code which changes the rules, some of which we're still learning and understanding.
There's one thing that is very clear. This billing code is abused so that more than patients can be picked up, the hospital can pull in more money and residents have the opportunity for an extra income source. In our son's case the resident made over $5,000 for a surgery that took him about 45 minutes. While the rest of bill originally went under Dr. Lee on Mayo's itemized statement, which luckily I made a copy of early once infection took hold, Dr. Lee's name was removed and no provider was named. The new bill and all of the ones in the future? They were placed under hospital services with no listed provider.
After the hospital admitted Dr. Lee had no intention of performing the surgery and that his role was only to be a consult that day, it became clear why the resident forgot to order and administer irrigation into our son's wounds. He should have used a combination of saline and an antimicrobial solution to clean out the surgical sites prior to closure...a standard of care for surgical site prevention. He didn't do it because the attending wasn't there to teach and remind him. He was a second year resident who'd only had his license to practice for four months. FOUR MONTHS. As for the other "First Assistant" in the room with the other resident? He shouldn't have been given the title as a First Assistant at all per Mayo's own curriculum. He didn't have a license, only a permit. He was a first year resident, just four months in, learning from another resident who had no idea what he was doing.
Weeks later, Jack's clinical outcome proved what the records showed. With no attending to guide the second year resident, multiple mistakes were made and infection & sepsis shock overcame our son. Had we not acted quickly and determined it, which isn't always easy to do on a child who can't speak and is profoundly delayed, he would have died.
We believe this was a scam. Fraud. We believe our civil rights were broken. We chose our surgeon, flew to him, he was listed as the primary performing surgeon on the documentation they gave us regarding where, when and who for the surgery. One referral was made to another, who made it back to another, and woo la...our rights to make decisions based on our son's care were ripped from us, knowingly and purposefully, for profit.
Operating records only verify the attending was present during the closure of our son's wounds. The records show NO time attestations from any CRNA, only a graduate student LEARNING to be a CRNA. We found a federal law which causes us to believe this is illegal.
Because the infected batteries in his chest were attached to the brain, the determination was made that there was a need to go into the skull and swab for infection. Prior to them taking him to make this incision, I reminded the nurse his head wasn't washed with Chlorohexidine...also the standard of care to prevent surgical site infections. She said their wasn't an order for it and that she'd put one in. The ball still got dropped. I brought this to the attention to multiple people in preop. Still his head was not washed.
We went back home, back on round the clock IV antibiotics and even still, it led to a new infection, the new one in his head where they swabbed for infection. One of the leads in his brain became infected in early January. Jack again began developing sepsis and the new infection ultimately required his entire deep brain stimulator unit to be removed.
It was put back in this August and September of 2020 at Cincinnati Children's. It was a two part procedure requiring another major brain surgery in August and going back into both sides of his head in September. In September new batteries were also implanted, although they couldn't be put back in his chest due to infection risks but were instead placed in his pelvic area. These additional surgeries, the increase of seizures, self-injury and terrible movements, as well as the decline in our son's health, vision, motor skills, cognition and quality of life all would have been prevented had the surgeon we hired performed the original surgery in 2020. What we've shared...tip of the ice berg. Literally.
This is just one example of what a victim of a ghost surgery can look like. Meet our son. Jack. While he'll never talk, walk or contribute to society in a way most people do, he'll be making a mark in history that we think will be important. His purpose and life has such significant reasons...to prevent this from happening to others...to you. He's our hero and we hope he is yours.
Ghost Surgeries, LLC. PO BOX 333 Milford, OH, 45150