By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
And although Godat still has his privileges at several area hospitals including Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas, Centennial Hospital in Frisco and Texas Specialty Hospital in Mesquite, he resigned his practice at Medical City last July.
"He told me he chose to resign," said Mark Godat of his brother, though David occasionally performs outpatient procedures like breast augmentation at Medical City's ambulatory center. "Said he was tired of getting hassled all the time."
Asked if Godat's departure from Medical City was related to the Springs case, Bell responded, "Absolutely not."
The change of address doesn't get Godat off the hook. He's still being sued—along with TAG, Hospital Corp of America, HCA Health Services of Texas, Columbia North Texas Subsidiary GP LLC, Columbia Hospital at Medical City Dallas Subsidiary L.P.—by the Springs family.
"I look forward to all of them being forced to take responsibility for how they dealt with this situation," Adriane says. "I don't want it happening to someone else because it's devastating. Every single day. Just because all the attention is gone...the pain is still here. They were careless, and they trapped my husband in darkness and silence. There needs to be consequences."
Springs' legal battle in Dallas is off to a slow start to say the least.
Because of a procedural error, the original claim against Medical City was thrown out, forcing Springs to now sue the hospital's nurses and physicians individually instead of collectively. More important, the Texas Medical Board conducted an investigation of the case and unequivocally absolved Godat, Abraham and Medical City of any wrongdoing or responsibility.
In a report released early in 2009, the Board states that Godat provided care "in a logical, caring manner" and added that "a rare but devastating complication ensued, which is always tragic, but the standard of care was not violated."
Adds Chamblee, "All complaints were dismissed, without so much as a formal hearing. It was a horribly sad event, but there isn't anything to suggest there was anything wrong with Dr. Abraham's actions."
While the teams of lawyers prepare to play hot potato with Springs' astronomical, soaring medical bills—Irving-based rehabilitation consultant Dr. Rodney Isom, an expert retained by the plaintiff, calculates the combined cost of care for Springs over the next 15 years at $9.5 million—the patient's family remains undaunted in its legal pursuit.
Says Weisbrod, "We need to bring to light some of the things about these doctors that Mrs. Springs wishes she would've known then and that the public deserves to know now."
"I know that miracles do happen, and we'll continue to hope and pray for the best, but it just breaks your heart to see such a great guy in such a bad state."
—Former Springs teammate, Roger Staubach
No debating what happened to Springs. But, ultimately, who did it?
"She was an inexperienced doctor who made rookie mistakes," Weisbrod says. "And they cost Ron permanent brain injury."
"It's unfortunate, but nobody's responsible," Chamblee says. "Like humans and doctors, medicine isn't perfect. Every day in this country dozens of folks die because of unforeseen circumstances in elective surgery. Even with our advances, we still cannot perform procedures risk-free, and we won't be able to do so in our lifetime."
"A normal, functioning doctor would've communicated Ron's situation clearly to his health care team," Weisbrod contends. "Dr. Godat not only failed to do that, he wasn't even in the room when the procedure started and ultimately failed."
"There's a reason Ron's gone through all this," Adriane says. "God has a purpose for him, and it's much bigger than lying in that bed. He's going to be whole again someday."
Because Springs received his last request, he likely won't ever get to tell his side of the sad story.
"I remember what he said," said Abraham, recalling her patient's repeated pre-op desire. "He just wanted to be put to sleep."