Phillip Seaton went to a Kentucky hospital in October 2007 for a routine circumcision. When he woke up, his penis was gone.
Now, he and his wife Deborah are suing Dr. John Patterson, who didn’t consult with them before removing Phillip’s penis, for damages, citing a “loss of service, love and affection.” (ALSO: Feds pay for study of gay men’s penis sizes)
But this wasn’t a case of a doctor going insane. Dr. Patterson said the organ needed to be removed because he detected cancer. Tests later confirmed Phillip Seaton had squamous cell carcinoma.
“While it is unfortunate that he developed this cancer, it is both unfair and unreasonable to blame a physician for providing what was appropriate and necessary care for his condition,” Patterson wrote in a statement released after the surgery.
But the Seatons’ attorney, Kevin George, said the cancer wasn’t an emergency, and thinks his clients should have been given the opportunity to get a second opinion.
The case raises questions about when doctors can and should operate without consulting patients. Dr. Douglas Diekema, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Circumcision Task Force spoke with CBS, and said that question is “difficult.”
“If the situation is truly, imminently life threatening, they can and should act … [But] if there is sufficient time to wake the patient and discuss the situation with the patient, that is generally preferred,” Diekema said, “particularly if the discovery of something like cancer will involve the removal of an organ or limb.”