Audio recordings build case against Florida orthopedic surgeon; more lawsuits filed

Carly Behm -  

Audio recordings of a retired orthopedic surgeon facing hundreds of lawsuits at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Ascension St. Vincent's Riverside Hospital were filed in court, News 4 Jax reported Sept. 21.

Richard Heekin, MD, a retired hip and knee replacement surgeon, is accused of injuring patients between 2016 and 2020. Alleged errors have led to bone fractures, ruptured tendons and severed nerves, and a July 29 report said 350 lawsuits were filed against him.

Toward the end of his career, Dr. Heekin had progressive supranuclear palsy, which can cause problems with walking, balance and eye movements.

Plaintiffs filed 10 audio clips they say are Dr. Heekin's dictations in the operating room after performing surgeries. In some instances, Dr. Heekin slurs his speech or speaks unintelligibly in the clips. The audio clips support allegations that Dr. Heekin and the hospital knew or should have known he was unfit to practice but still let him operate, News 4 Jax reported.

An attorney for one of the plaintiffs told News 4 Jax that 377 lawsuits have been filed so far, and they expect at least 100 more.

Attorneys for Dr. Heekin didn't respond to News 4 Jax for comment.

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