Brain surgeon out to lunch

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The Independent Online
A North Carolina woman has sued a neurosurgeon who she says left her in an operating room for 25 minutes with her brain exposed while he went out to lunch.

Even the American courts have seen few cases more bizarre than that of Mary Jo Ridenour, who contends that when Dr Raymond Sattler returned he failed to carry out proper sterilisation procedures and infected her, causing brain damage.

Ms Ridenour is partially paralysed on one side and is undergoing treatment as an out-patient at a rehabilitation centre. "The neurosurgeon just walked out, disappeared," her lawyer said. "They finally found him having a snack.''

The lawsuit also alleges that Dr Sattler, who was suspended by his hospital after the incident, has been involved in "several outrageous incidents that placed patients at unnecessary risk", including injecting himself intravenously during surgery.

On the surface of things it would appear that Ms Ridenour has a case, which is more than can be said for Bob Glaser, of San Diego, California, who is claiming $5.4m damages from the government of his home city for the "emotional trauma" he suffered at a recent Billy Joel concert held at a municipal stadium. Some women, frustrated by long queues at the ladies' room, had entered the gents. Mr Glaser says he was "extremely upset" by the spectacle of a woman using a urinal.

No more plausible is a suit brought in Connecticut, by the family of the late Jefferson Ketcham. They accuse Cobb's Mill Inn and a waiter who works there of criminal negligence.

The family say the waiter drove Mr Ketcham home as a favour because he was too drunk to drive. Instead of escorting him to the front door the waiter merely helped him out of the car and went home. Mr Ketcham, it turned out, was in no fit state to walk, let alone drive. He tripped before making it into his house, hit his head and died.