Medical negligence case against Chief of general surgery, Lauren Rubino MD and the Hospital where surgery was performed, Eastern Connecticut Health Network Inc. which runs Manchester and Rockville Memorial hospitals. The negligence alleged was that Dr. Rubino operated on the wrong area of Mrs. Rea's breast and failed to remove the intended lump for biopsy which was the purpose of the operation. Additionally, negligence was alleged against the Hospital on the basis that its nursing staff failed to properly mark the operative site properly and have procedures in place for verifying the correct site of surgery. The jury found negligence against both Dr. Rubino and the Hospital on this basis. The jury also found that Mrs. Rea had not given her informed consent for the operation at any alternative surgical site.
The jury also found that Dr. Rubino acted in an untruthful manner with her patient in regards to her post surgical conduct and found for Mrs. Rea on the basis that she negligently inflicted emotional distress in so doing. More significantly, however, is was the Jury's conclusion that Dr. Rubino had breached her fiduciary duty to her patient by altering the content of the original operative report in an untruthful manner . An original operative report had been dictated shortly after the surgery before the patient regained full consciousness and was electronically signed that same day. Mrs. Rea refused to return to Dr. Rubino's care for followup and had complained to the Hospital about the wrong site surgery. In the weeks following the surgery , Dr. Rubino had enlisted the assistance of the Hospital's transcription department to alter the signed operative report by bringing the document back to draft status and thereupon editing in a substantial alterations that reflected a different set of events during surgery than were contained in the original operative report. The original version of the operative report no longer appeared in the hospital chart of the patient after the alterations had been completed.
Dr. Rubino maintained at Trial that she had merely edited the original report to reflect events which did occur during surgery and had not been included in the original dictation and which provided justification for the procedure she performed at a different operative site than originally intended. The Judge's Jury charge made clear that a breach of fiduciary duty had to be based on their finding of untruthfulness, disloyalty rather than an innocent explanation for the altered document as provided by Dr. Rubino. The claims that both Dr. Rubino and the Hospital's conduct as it related to post surgical conduct , principally the alteration and removal of the original operative report constituted a violation of Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices act was not proven in the Jury's view so no damages were awarded on that basis.
Compensatory Damages: The jury awarded compensatory damages only. The hospital was apportioned 60% and Dr. Rubino 40% of the total award.