DES MOINES, Iowa — In December of 2015 Zaw Zaw, a 38-year-old Burmese man, was sent to the Iowa Clinic with a referral letter for circumcision. The letter was also faxed.
“In four places on the referral form it said circumcision, circumcision, circumcision, circumcision,” said Zaw Zaw’s attorney Marc Harding. The letter, Harding says, was to help with Zaw Zaw`s trouble speaking English but he signed more forms at the clinic. “The interpreter filled out intake forms and said ‘We filled out that it was to cut the skin.’ That particular document ended up being shredded,” Harding said.
In January of 2016 instead of circumcision, Dr. Kevin Birusingh performed a vasectomy on Zaw Zaw. Harding said, “Zaw Zaw never understood what they were trying to get across and that was their duty and their job to get that across.”
Harding says they tried to come to an agreement with the Iowa Clinic before trial. “Yeah, they blamed him. They said he should`ve known we were wrong in the way we were doing it and pointing the finger at him the whole way through,” said Harding.
Wednesday a jury made a $2 million verdict saying Dr. Birusingh shouldered 70% of the blame and Zaw Zaw 30% blame. “Dr. Bireusingh, he was the professional, he was the one that should have made sure because he was the one cutting on the body,” Harding said.
The Iowa Clinic responded to Wednesday`s verdict saying “We are grateful for the jury`s hard work and are pleased that no fault in this matter was assigned to the Iowa Clinic. It is important to note, the physician involved in this case has not been on staff with the clinic for more than a year.”
Last April, a jury awarded over $12 million to a Panora man who was wrongly diagnosed with prostate cancer by the Iowa Clinic. The intense surgery left him with nerve damage that negatively impacted his marriage. Marc Harding sees a clear pattern. “Paperwork was not handled properly, I think there`s a lot of similarities,” said Harding.
Zaw Zaw has chosen to go to another clinic for his circumcision and to reverse the vasectomy. Dr. Birusingh is now employed as a urologist at Broadlawns.