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Doctor sued for exposing patients to HIV and Hepatitis

Doctors are some of the most trusted members of Lafayette society as well as the world. When this trust is tested, it may be difficult for patients to know how to move forward. This is especially true when a doctor is the focus of serious personal and catastrophic injury allegations.

Sadly, this is the current reality for the patients of a Tulsa oral surgeon. The doctor is accused of exposing thousands of his patients to serious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C. It is unclear whether this exposure is the result of the doctor's unsanitary practices or some other unrelated source. What is known is that nearly 60 former patients of the doctor have tested positive for those diseases.

What comes next for these patients? Some have decided to file personal lawsuits against the doctor. They claim medical negligence and seek significant damages as compensation. There are at least three separate pending lawsuits and more may be filed. Additionally, the government is conducting its own investigation.

Like general negligence claims, a plaintiff suing a doctor must show that the doctor owed a duty of care. Because doctors are such trusted members of the community, this duty is greater than that of an ordinary person. Specifically, a doctor is expected to act with the same care, skill and diligence as a reasonable doctor would in a comparable situation.

Here, if the oral surgeon's sanitation practices fell below what a reasonable doctor would have done, he may face serious exposure to liability.

The cases and investigations are in the earlier stages. It is unclear whether whatever happened was an accident or truly the result of the doctor's blatant disregard. Nonetheless, in either scenario, the doctor may still be exposed to both civil and criminal liability.

Source: KOKH-TV FOX 25, "New Lawsuits Filed Against Tulsa Dentist," April 23, 2013.

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