For the second time this year, a widow has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Las Vegas urologist Michael Kaplan, who remains free while appealing a four-year prison term he received in an unrelated criminal case.
Arlene Muller filed her lawsuit in Clark County District Court on July 24, about five months after Connie Mulick filed a malpractice lawsuit against Kaplan. Their husbands died last year after being treated by Kaplan.
Both women are represented by attorneys at Bowen Law Offices in Las Vegas. Neither Kaplan nor his attorneys could be reached for comment on the lawsuits.
Muller’s lawsuit alleges her husband, John, was in Kaplan’s care last year when the urologist caused his death.
According to an attached affidavit prepared by California urologist Richard Boxer, Kaplan “failed to evaluate Mr. Muller for an extended period of time during which the patient had blood in his urine” and “failed to perform a biopsy on Mr. Muller’s bladder when the CT scan report indicated the highly probable presence of cancer.”
Kaplan ruptured John Muller’s bladder on July 26, 2014, during placement of a catheter, which resulted in the need for emergency surgery two days later, according to the affidavit.
“Since Dr. Kaplan failed to diagnose Mr. Muller’s bladder cancer, Dr. Kaplan proceeded with surgery on 7/28/14 and opened Mr. Muller’s bladder during the repair of the bladder rupture, which, along with the rupture, resulted in the spread of his cancer into his pelvis,” Boxer wrote.
According to the affidavit, John Muller also needed tubes to be placed into his ureters because the cancer was blocking the opening of the ureters into the bladder.
“Mr. Muller’s kidneys later became infected and required surgery to drain the infections,” Boxer wrote. “It is my opinion these infections directly and causally contributed to the demise of Mr. Muller. If Mr. Muller had been properly evaluated when the blood existed in his urine, the bladder cancer would have more likely than not been detected earlier.”
The earlier detection and treatment of the cancer “would have more likely than not caused the avoidance and/or mitigation of the subsequent complications” that ultimately led to his death, according to the affidavit.
In September, a federal jury found Kaplan guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit adulteration in connection with his reuse of rectal needle guides. The guides were used during prostate biopsies on his patients, mostly cancer victims. He was sentenced in May.
Prosecutors contended that Kaplan, who has been practicing medicine in Nevada since 1991, ignored warning labels on needle guide packages prohibiting the reuse of the disposable guides. Patients were not told about the reuse.
Kaplan’s medical license was suspended briefly in March 2011 after a joint investigation by the FDA and Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners.
The Southern Nevada Health District sent letters to 101 of his patients, advising them to get tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C. The district did not report a positive case among the patients.
Kaplan had built his urology practice into one of the largest in Las Vegas but gave up his practice after his conviction because he no longer could get insurance, his lawyers said.
According to Mulick’s lawsuit, her husband, Edward, arrived in the emergency room at St. Rose Dominican Hospital’s Siena campus on Feb. 12, 2014, for treatment of a urinary condition and was examined by Kaplan.
Later, during a surgical procedure, a bladder perforation was found, along with a bladder tumor.
According to the lawsuit, Edward Mulick’s heart stopped, and he was resuscitated. He also developed renal failure.
Edward Mulick remained in critical condition until his death on Feb. 17, 2014. The Clark County coroner’s office ruled that his death was caused by complications of the bladder perforation.
According to the medical board’s website, two settlement payments have been reported by a medical malpractice insurance company on Kaplan’s behalf: one for $1 million and one for $250,000. Both payments were related to acts or omissions in 2001 and listed the following details: “obstructed ureter and perforated bowel as a result of improper performance of surgeries.”
The board found Kaplan guilty in 2005 of failing to use “reasonable care, skill or knowledge” in the treatment of a patient “by performing surgery on the wrong side.” The board, concluding that his conduct constituted malpractice, issued a public letter of reprimand.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer