JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Videos, photos and documents obtained by First Coast News to be used as evidence in Dr. Richard David Heekin's trial detail the botched surgeries he is accused of preforming.
Over 350 lawsuits have been filed, with at least 100 more expected by the end of the year, against Heekin's clinic and Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville.
Twenty-seven pages worth of documents lay out the procedures he allegedly performed and the "breaches" committed on each patient. The patients will not be named for anonymity purposes.
According to the timeline of events in the documents, Heekin began to show "lack of eye contact, slurred speech and altered gait" beginning in 2016. That was four years before he retired. In that time frame "experienced a significant number of terrible surgical outcomes", as alleged in the documents.
In 2016, Heekin reportedly performed a total knee arthroplasty on a patient who was only 44-year-old at the time and did not have severe arthritis. However, the doctor allegedly justified the surgery in his notes by saying “it was felt the patient will develop arthritic changes in the near future."
According to the plantiff's documents, that is "under no circumstances an appropriate basis for preforming an invasive joint replacement".
In August 2019 Heekin performed a right hip revision on a patient. According to the documents "Dr. Heekin's operative note entered into St. Vincent's EMR system is completely nonsensical, demonstrating significant confusion."
Heekin is also accused of using a tourniquet and midline incision, which the document says are used for knee replacements, not hip replacements. Furthermore, in that same procedure, Heekin is said to have caused the component to break through the medial wall and put the component in the patient's pelvis.
The document also includes a text message chain between two of Heekin's nurses from Jan. 28, 2020. One of the text messages reads, "Me and Lindsey are going to both report him to the state I think. No one is doing anything about it. He is out of his mind today. He's so confused."
A later text message in that conversation reads, "This is by far the worst I've seen him. Not making any sense. He can't form a full sentence."
Heekin would perform surgeries for more than a month after those texts were sent.
Around that same time, another doctor began texting Ascension St. Vincent's Chief Medical Officer, Jeff Mathison, in January 2020 regarding his concerns about Heekin's surgical practices.
On Feb. 14th, 2020 the doctor texted Mathison, "Jeff, just following up on the Heekin situation. We had another patient come in this week with a part of her knee replacement not installed correctly. Any feedback?"
Heekin would perform surgeries for nearly another full month after that text was sent.
Another text message from an independent physician to the CEO of St. Vincent, Tom VanOsdol, describes the complications that he sees from former patients of Dr. Heekin.
"These patients will end up with above knee amputations and girdlestones. I'm going to stop seeing his patients because I can't take care of them all."
At the time of publication Ascension St. Vincent has not responded to First Coast News for comment on the documents or their alleged accusations.