Why Was Ben Carson Sued? The Neurosurgeon's Malpractice Suits Actually Aren't All That Unusual

LAKEWOOD, CO - OCTOBER 29: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a news conference before a campaign event at Colorado Christian University on October 29, 2015 in Lakewood, Colorado. Ben Carson was back on the campaign trail a day after the third republican debate held at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

You've probably heard that before he decided to run for president of the United States, Ben Carson was a neurosurgeon. But how much do you really know about Dr. Carson time in the field? Ben Carson faced eight medical malpractice claims in Maryland over the course of his decades-long neurosurgery career, the Daily Beast points. While that may seem like a high figure, experts have noted that neurosurgery is a particularly dangerous medical field, and given the length of Carson's career, eight lawsuits isn't actually that many. But either way, the malpractice suits shouldn't be held against Carson in the 2016 election.

Carson, who is now 64, served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland for almost 30 years, from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. In 1988, Carson separated a pair of conjoined twins, one of his greatest achievements as a neurosurgeon. Carson has been praised for his achievements as a neurosurgeon — and for the fact that he's leading the Republican primary polls — but a new report from The Daily Beast reveals that he's also been at the center of some surprising controversy while he was a doctor. The Daily Beast obtained the statistics about the suits against Carson from the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO).

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The Daily Beast cites a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, published in 2011, which found that neurosurgeons face a higher risk of malpractice than other physicians, and 19 percent of neurosurgeons face malpractice claims each year (as opposed to, say, just 5 percent of doctors who practice family medicine, for example). So eight lawsuits across the length of Carson's career actually isn't out of the ordinary for such a risky field. There's also no way to know how trustworthy the claims against Carson actually were, without the court records.

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A recent article in The Guardian, meanwhile, describes several of the other cases against Carson, including a woman who claims a surgery Carson performed gave her severe nerve damage. (Carson argues that the patient was aware of the risks of the procedure.) Still, The Guardian also notes that the number of claims against Carson isn't out of the ordinary, as he performed about 400 operations yearly at the peak of his career.

Carson has been praised for his work separating conjoined twins, and many patients would defend his record as a neurosurgeon. It's impossible for us to truly know what happened in the cases presented against Carson, but they shouldn't affect voters' views of him as a presidential candidate. If anything, Carson's neurosurgery career proves that he's able to handle an incredibly risky and stressful job, which could actually prepare him to be president quite well.

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