Medical Negligence Stories: Wart Removal from Hell

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

July 8th, 2008 • Patient AdvocacyPrint Print

Since I started my blog, I have wanted to write about medical negligence stories from my life. I have found that it’s extremely difficult to do, however, because I still suffer from their impact on my body. For this reason, each incident of medical negligence feels very emotionally charged.

So I have decided to jump-start the process by sharing the letters I have written to doctors following such incidents. To protect the guilty, I am only using initials. Here is the first in my series of letters — about the wart removal from hell.

January 10, 2008

Dr. C:

As you know, today I came in to get a wart frozen off. When you finished freezing the wart, you asked me if I ever played with liquid nitrogen. I said no. You said it was “really cool.” I replied that those kind of things don’t interest me — “which is why you’re a doctor and I’m not,” I said.

Without warning and without asking my permission, you abruptly poured liquid nitrogen from the cup directly onto the examining table, right next to my exposed skin. Shocked and frightened, I jerked my legs back and away from the liquid nitrogen, which was bubbling around on the table. You then emptied the rest of the cup onto the same place. I was too stunned to say anything but managed to ask if the substance evaporates — trying to gauge how dangerous it might be and whether I would have to worry about spillage on the floor, as I went to get my shoes.

It was at that time that I noticed a mild stinging in my right eye. It has been two and a half hours, and my eye still doesn’t feel right. I just left a message for the doctor on call, concerned that my eye may have been irritated by a splash or vapor from the liquid nitrogen. While waiting for a call back, I looked up information about liquid nitrogen on the Internet, and this is what I found:

“Skin contact with liquid nitrogen or cold nitrogen gas may cause severe cold burns, comparable with those caused by boiling water…The eyes are particularly susceptible – even small splashes of liquid nitrogen, or short exposures to cold vapour or gas, may cause instant freezing of eye tissues and permanent damage…Vapor may cause a stinging sensation.”

I am now even more frightened and praying that your actions have not caused some kind of damage to my eye. Regardless of whether it has or hasn’t, your behavior was totally inappropriate and unprofessional. It frightened me, undermined the trust I extended to you as a doctor, potentially put my health at risk, and is taking time and attention I need for other matters. Not only am I scared, I am angry.

Sincerely,

Loolwa Khazzoom



Comments

Miriam Schwab July 8th, 2008

That is so horrible! That doctor acted like a kid playing with fire: “Oh look, how cool, it’s shiny and bright…AND BURNS LIKE HELL.”

My sister has been suffering for years now as a result of having her gall bladder taken out, something they doctors said “has no side affects.” Sure. Take out a whole organ, and everything will be like new. She’s been to many doctors, none of whom can help her, so now she just tries to stay as far away from doctors as possible, hoping that at least in that way they can’t do more damage.

Ugh.

Diana Lee December 28th, 2009

It makes me so angry to know you’ve had these bad experiences at the hand of so-called medical professionals. I certainly have my anger issues related to treatment I have received, but nothing I’ve experienced has come close to any of this. I’ve been mighty lucky, all things considered.
 
 
 

Lakiesha Muno January 14th, 2010

Friend sent me the link to your site, looks nice, I added you to my favorites

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