New audio recordings added to lawsuit against doctor accused of botched surgeries

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – News4JAX has an I-TEAM update on an investigation into Dr. David Heekin – formerly at Ascension St. Vincent’s – who is accused of botching hundreds of surgeries from 2016-2020 while suffering from a progressive neurological disease that had caused him to lose his balance and blur his speech.

The plaintiffs filed audio recordings which they claim are dictations the doctor made in the operating room immediately after performing surgeries towards the end of his career.

One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys told I-TEAM that they have filed 377 lawsuits so far and expect there to be at least 100 more.

They allege that Dr. David Heekin and St. Vincent knew or should have known that he was unfit to practice, but allowed him to continue operating anyway. They allege this has led to devastating results for patients.

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The plaintiffs filed ten audio clips – like this one – in support of their argument that punitive damages should be on the table. In the video, you can hear a man talking unintelligibly in places throughout the nearly five-minute clip.

A video taken in 2015 was another filed by plaintiffs for comparison.

In the video, you can clearly hear the doctor saying, “Hi. I am Dr. David Heekin, Orthopedic Surgeon to the Medical Director of St. Vincent’s Orthopedic Center of Excellence.

One of the plaintiff’s lawyers told I-TEAM that the audio recording of his slurred speech was made five years later in the operating room after the operation, as a medical assistant closed the patient still unconscious.

“Dr. Huh. [unintelligible] operated on Stephen D. Fortier…” the man’s voice is heard saying in the clip.

RELATED: Video deposition shows former St. Vincent surgeon accused of botching procedures, having slurred speech and outbursts | Lawsuits allege Ascension St. Vincent knew doctor was unfit to operate, but allowed him to perform surgeries | Legal filings show St. Vincent’s agreeing to participate in arbitration to resolve some threatened claims against hospital David Heekin

This patient is now one of hundreds of people suing Dr. Heekin, the Heekin Clinic and St. Vincent – alleging that the surgeon began to suffer from progressive supranuclear palsy in 2016 and that the hospital has continued to treat him. let it operate for years.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this brain disorder worsens over time and results from the deterioration of areas of the brain that control body movement, coordination, thinking, and other functions. Symptoms include loss of balance, vision problems, and slow or scrambled speech.

In a lawsuit, the patient who underwent surgery that day alleges that Dr. Heekin negligently caused an injury to his tendon and that he had to undergo two revision surgeries.

Plaintiffs allege that Dr. Heekin, in February 2020, after knee surgery was unnecessary and fractured the patient’s femur.

They allege he can be heard mouthing his words on audio from the operating room on March 2, 2020, after performing knee replacement surgery on a patient who tested positive for MRSA before the operation. They also allege that the patient’s knee tendon ruptured the following day.

Dr Heekin retired the following month – later revealing in a deposition that his medical condition had contributed to his decision to retire.

A lawyer for St Vincent’s declined to comment, but in a document filed in court on Wednesday, they argued that the plaintiffs had failed to meet their burden of showing that the hospital’s conduct justified authorizing the plaintiffs to add a claim for punitive damages. They also argue that plaintiffs have no right to seek punitive damages because they previously rejected the hospital’s offer to arbitrate under a law that bars plaintiffs from seeking damages. penalties after rejecting such an offer.

A hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion to seek punitive damages is scheduled for next week where the plaintiffs can respond to the defense argument.

Court records show that St. Vincent’s accepted liability in some of the malpractice suits involving Dr. Heekin while denying wrongdoing in others.

We have contacted attorneys for Dr. Heekin and the Heekin Clinic for comment, but have not yet received a response.

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