Trent and Troy Smith say a negligent plastic surgeon caused their family much grief. Their mother, Charlene Smith, went to Dr. Robert G. Clark for a liposuction operation. The procedure is considered relatively safe, but Clark's operating instrument pierced Charlene's intestine dozens of times. She died from the botched operation.
The Smiths sued Clark for medical malpractice. They settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
This was not Clark's first run in with accusations of medical malpractice. Records released by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts show Clark has been sued for malpractice at least eleven other times, eight times before he ever operated on Charlene. He lost a jury verdict in one of those cases and settled at least one other. Not all are of the cases are still pending and some have been dropped.
Clark has vacated his Wichita office and voluntarily agreed to limit his practice, but he can still practice in some situations and could renew his license whenever he wants.
Healing Arts Board Executive Director Larry Buening says the filing of a case does not necessarily mean a doctor provided substandard care to a patient. He says the board takes action when it finds a doctor acted grossly negligent in just one case or when the doctor is somewhat negligent in several cases. Buening says he is unable to say whether his board has ever investigated Clark because of privacy restrictions.
There are ways to educate yourself about the doctor you choose. Visit the Board Healing Arts website for a list of disciplinary actions taken against doctors. They can tell you the number of malpractice suits filed against a doctor.