Malpractice in the Medical Profession: Iturralde v. Hilo Medical Centre


This paper provides a discussion of malpractice in the medical profession. The lawsuit in this study involved a surgeon, a patient and a state-owned medical center in two thousand and one. The appellant, Arturo Iturralde, succumbed to death two years posts the medical procedure by Dr. Robert Ricketson. The surgeon confessed in court to replacing titanium surgical rods with hacking a stainless surgical screwdriver so that medical workers could not locate it. The day after the surgery, Iturralde dropped at least once, breaking the screwdriver shaft segment in his back. A week later, Ricketson worked again, this time implanting the titanium rods. The nurse found the fractured screwdriver shaft in the second surgery. Rosalinda Iturralde, the patient’s younger sister, filed a lawsuit at an attorney’s office. She filed a lawsuit against the hospital, Ricketson, and others. According to Elwood (2017), the jury found that Hilo Medical Center was incompetent in granting Ricketson hospital privileges. Ricketson was 65 percent liable for Arturo Iturralde’s death, while the hospital was 35 percent responsible (Ferrara 2018, p. 14). The field of medicine has so many cases of medical malpractices, which are often a result of negligence or accidents violating the predetermined standards of care within the legal framework.

Malpractice Policies

The state body will be more liable in terms of the portion of the percentage damage than the other party. Such consideration is captured under section 663 of the US Constitution indicates that in circumstances where a state agency is proven guilty as a tortfeasor alongside more than one or other offenders (Goodyear-Smith & Mash 2018). An exception is when the government entity is found to be a tortfeasor on its own. According to Shandell et al. (2018), the administration only allowed reprieve to the degree allowed in statute situations that it did not violate applicable and accumulated rights. The court followed other jurisdictions and concluded that any alteration in terms of ownership was considered as alterations to the parties’ conferred right and is substantive, prohibiting retroactive compliance in such situations. The fact and date of the accident set in motion events and circumstances that established and built grounds for a damage claim (Tharpe et al., 2018). When his lawsuit arose, common law placed joint and several liabilities on all jointly liable parties, and his negligence claim contained a claim under this fundamental doctrine.

Malpractice Case for the Standard of Care

Dr Ricketson was legally responsible for performing the medical procedure Iturralde Arturo professionally and in a manner that ensured the safety of his health in the case Iturralde v. Hilo Medical Center in the US. Before beginning the operation, the doctor never checked to see if the surgery equipment was functional, which violated surgeons’ legal obligations in one way or another (Ferrara, 2018). Furthermore, Dr. Ricketson’s actions show disrespect against the patient by deviating from the quality of treatment in the medical profession. Instead of the recommended titanium rods, the surgeon decided to use makeshift screwdriver strands. Dr. Ricketson’s incompetence is to blame for his patient’s death which occurred three years after the medical procedure (Goodyear-Smith & Mash, 2018). Furthermore, Dr. Ricketson’s hospital was held incompetent for employing doctor Ricketson, a person that they had full information of his inability to work as a medic after being fired from two different health facilities. If Feld Meyer had communicated to the Hilo medical center concerning doctor Ricketson’s behavior, this situation might not have arisen.

Impact of Malpractice on Cultural Backgrounds

Malpractice, in the case of Iturralde v. Hilo Medical Center, would impose a different effect on healthcare customers from various cultural backgrounds. Healthcare malpractice affects people from all walks of life in different ways (Tharpe et al., 2016). Both healthcare providers and agencies must uphold the integrity and adhere to the highest quality of treatment patients may lose trust in government-run healthcare facilities. Such consideration indicates that they accept as true that these facilities do more harm than good to patients rather than being therapeutic environments. Modern healers may use these for terminally ill patients or those suffering from chronic diseases. Traditional treatment approaches are seen as safer and more dependable than modern healthcare facilities such as HMC. When Dr. Ricketson refused to wait for the surgery’s necessary titanium rods, he demonstrated his lack of responsibility. The team working with Dr. Ricketson that day was also held liable due to a lack of responsibility, and they should be kept accountable for failing to speak up until the damage was done. They did not bring it up until the patient’s health had worsened.

Malpractice and Accountability

Healthcare malpractices have varying effects on consumer behavior at any given time. As a result, maintaining integrity and adhering to ethical practices is critical for healthcare professionals and organizations. Dr. Ricketson declined to break proceedings in waiting for the approved titanium rods to be used for implants. The malpractice case of accountability was clear that she waited for anything to go wrong before reporting the incident; the staff who worked with Dr. Ricketson could be held liable for their lack of responsibility. According to Elwood (2017), doctors are not sure of the best course of action in various cases. Physicians are frequently confronted with complex ethical dilemmas, especially when deciding between two or more options. In this situation, Dr. Ricketson believed that waiting longer than one and a half hours for the nurse to deliver the titanium rods would put the patient at risk. The doctor wanted to help Iturralde, who was struggling for his life, by applying his expertise to his situation.

Deontological ethics apply in the case of Iturralde v. Hilo Medical Center because they are focused on fairness, autonomy, and beneficence to the patient. As a result, the surgical doctor’s responsibilities and obligations are crucial. According to the evidence presented in court Ricketson violated deontology ethics when caring for Iturralde. For example, Dr. Ricketson should have known that the damage was unacceptable. As a result, deciding to replace the titanium rods with the improvised screwdriver shafts was a wrong move that the healthcare industry discourages. Breaching the deontological norm placed Hilo Medical Centre in jeopardy, as families no longer trusted them with their loved ones’ lives.

Overall, medical malpractices are a result of negligence or accidents in most instances. For instance, the case of Iturralde v. Hilo Medical Centre was a pure case of medical malpractice. The defendant Dr. Robert and the medical facility had failed to take the required precautions to ensure the plaintiff’s safety. He committed negligence by failing to ensure that the patient and family were aware of the procedure and the risks involved, as well as to explain what happened during the surgery. The hospital was held liable for not adhering to the code of conduct that eliminated malpractices.


Elwood, M. (2017). Critical appraisal of epidemiological studies and clinical trials. Oxford University Press.

Ferrara, S. D. (2018). P5 medicine and justice: Innovation, unitariness and evidence. Springer.

Goodyear-Smith, F., & Mash, B. (2019). How to do primary care research.

Shandell, R. E., Schulman, F. A., & Smith, P. (2018). The preparation and trial of medical malpractice cases. Law Journal Press.

Tharpe, Farley, C. L., & Jordan, R. G. (2016). Clinical practice guidelines for midwifery & women’s health. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.