Update: Top San Francisco phalloplasty surgeon now with 8 malpractice suits

by Worriedmom

Second in a series. Part 1 is here.

4thWaveNow contributor Worriedmom has practiced civil litigation for many years in federal and state courts.


San Francisco phalloplasty surgeon, Curtis Crane, M.D., continues his odyssey through the San Francisco court system. Since our initial post about Dr. Crane and his legal troubles, one of the lawsuits that was then pending against him has apparently been settled, and two more have been filed. This brings to a total of eight the number of times that Dr. Crane has now been sued for medical malpractice in San Francisco Superior Court.

This post updates the reader on the various lawsuits now pending against Dr. Crane, and also documents the peculiar silence with which these allegations have been greeted in the transgender community. It is indeed strange that, for all their fears about violence and mistreatment, transgender activists do not appear concerned in the slightest about a member of the medical profession who is alleged to have botched multiple surgeries, behaved insensitively (some would say cruelly), and caused medical havoc for many. (Of course, the allegations contained in the complaints detailed herein, until either admitted, or tested and proven in a court of law, remain just that – allegations).

In fairness to Dr. Crane, let’s start with some general observations about medical malpractice. Although it’s difficult to find comprehensive statistics, a recent (2017) survey conducted by Medscape found that 55% of all practicing U.S. physicians have been sued at least once. According to the survey, surgeons, such as Dr. Crane, are particularly likely to be sued (85% of them have faced a malpractice suit at some point in their careers). However, a large-scale study using data from the National Practitioner Data Bank also found that a tiny fraction of doctors (1%) accounts for almost one-third (32%) of paid medical claims.

Claim-proneness results from a number of factors, including type of specialty, age and sex; however:

“Compared to physicians with only one previous claim, a physician who has had three previous claims is three times as likely to have another one,” said lead author David Studdert, a professor of medicine and law at Stanford. “A physician who has had four is four times more likely and so on.”

Dr. Crane thus appears to be among the fraction of physicians who are extremely frequent targets for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Before getting into the details, we wondered whether perhaps lawsuits are a common occurrence in practice areas such as this one that involve relatively experimental or new procedures, and a patient base that might tend to have unreasonably high expectations. But a San Francisco Superior Court record search for Doctors Thomas Satterwhite, Michael Safir, Richard Santucci, Ashley DeLeon, and Charles Lee, all surgical partners in Dr. Crane’s practice, does not reveal any pending medical malpractice lawsuits for any of these doctors. Curious indeed.

As is common to all United States courts, records of lawsuits and the underlying documents can be found by going to the court website for the appropriate jurisdiction, in this case the San Francisco Superior Court. It is helpful to have the case number (also called an “index” or “docket” number), although a search can also be performed using the person’s name, so those are provided below.

A review of the lawsuits pending against Dr. Crane reveals the following detail:

Lewis Raynor and Haven Herrin v. Crane, CGC-17-556713. The plaintiff in this case alleges negligence in connection with Dr. Crane’s implantation of an inflated pump device in a second-stage phalloplasty, and the subsequent infection and loss of 40% of the plaintiff’s penis. Trial is set for December 17, 2018.

Crane Part 2 Raynor

Doe v. Crane, CGC-17-557327. The plaintiff alleges negligence in connection with three “transformative urological surgical procedures,” including a “procedure similar to a metoidioplasty,” replacement of testicular implants, and the placement of a new 3-piece inflatable implant. A metoidioplasty is a surgical procedure that uses clitoral tissue that has been enlarged through testosterone use to form a “neophallus.” Trial is set for February 19, 2019.

Carter v. Crane, CGC-16-554254. This case involves the truly unfortunate case of Cayden Carter, a young trans man who has endured over 20 surgeries in a thus far fruitless quest to obtain, and then ameliorate the effects of, a male-appearing genital structure. Carter maintains a Tumblr blog and has written extensively about the many surgeries and lasting problems resulting from the original phalloplasty, including an ileostomy and the continued need for a colostomy bag.

Crane Part 2 Carter

According to Carter’s complaint, the first surgery performed by Dr. Crane resulted in a perforated colon, which Dr. Crane first ignored and then failed to repair. There is no trial date set for this matter.

Taylor Carson v. Crane, CGC-17-556743. This case involves a plaintiff who was operated on twice by Dr. Crane, first to create a penis (which became infected) and second to attempt to repair holes in the urethra in the new penis (which failed). The entire penis was later removed, and the plaintiff was informed by another doctor that he never should have been considered for this surgery. The case has been set down for trial on March 4, 2019.

Crane Part 2 Carson

Doe v. Crane, CGC-17-560690. This case involves a plaintiff who had already undergone several transgender surgeries who wished to replace an earlier phalloplasty with a new graft that would also include lengthened urethra. The plaintiff had already undergone a “vaginectomy” (surgery to remove all or part of the vagina) and a “scrotoplasty” (a plastic surgery designed to transform part of the female genital area into a scrotum). According to the plaintiff, he specifically advised Dr. Crane’s practice in advance of surgery that he did not require a vaginectomy or a scrotoplasty; however, during the phalloplasty both of these surgeries were indeed performed. Interestingly, possibly due to potential statute of limitations restrictions, the plaintiff brought his complaint seeking damages for “medical battery” and “promissory fraud,” rather than medical malpractice. On January 4, 2018, the court denied Dr. Crane’s motion to dismiss the complaint. Trial is set for June 24, 2019.

Oliver Davis v. Crane, CGC-17-557363. This case involves Dr. Crane’s performance of a stage 1 phalloplasty that subsequently acquired a large blood clot, which the plaintiff claims that Dr. Crane ignored.

Crane Part 2 Davis

Most recently, Dr. Crane moved to have the complaint dismissed on various grounds and on February 14 of this year he lost that motion. The case does not appear to be set for trial.

Andrew Shepherd v. Crane, CGC-17-559294. In this case, the plaintiff sought to have a phalloplasty and the construction of a “large, realistic-looking scrotum.” However, the scrotum that the plaintiff was allegedly given by Dr. Crane was too small to contain even the smallest testicular implants. Since this surgery, the plaintiff has had two more surgeries, with other doctors, to obtain a larger scrotum, but they have both been unsuccessful. The case is set for trial on April 15, 2019.

In addition to the above seven cases, an eighth case, Doe v. Crane, CGC-16-550630, has now been settled (as of June 2017). This case also involved urology/surgical services provided as part of a female-to-male transition. According to the plaintiff,

Crane Part 2 Doe

The court documents do not disclose what, if anything, the plaintiff received in settlement of the case.

One allegation common to virtually all of the above cases is that Dr. Crane “over-promised” and “under-delivered” in terms of the likely success, appearance, and functionality of the constructed genitals. Moreover, several of the plaintiffs also allege that Dr. Crane’s response, when confronted with complications or distressing symptoms following surgery, was inadequate, unconcerned, and even unfeeling.

As a final note, other than coverage by 4thWaveNow, there appears to be nothing on the internet about Dr. Curtis Crane that is not completely laudatory and admiring of his surgical skills and acumen. YouTube videos sing his praises (see “Dr. Crane is AHmazing” and “Do I Regret Lower Surgery?” for two recent examples) . The Brownstein-Crane Facebook page contains 22 5-star reviews and only 2 negative reviews (neither of which mention the eight malpractice lawsuits). Susan’s Place, a major resource page for transgender people to connect and share resources, has a thread on Dr. Crane which contains only praise and, again, no mention of the extensive legal history cited above. Transgender Pulse, another major transgender resource and support forum, also has none of the above information about Dr. Crane. TSSurgery.com, a site providing information for transgender people about surgeons and others, that also contains reviews, has a large section on Dr. Crane, but again, no mention of his legal troubles.

Poignantly if not somewhat hypocritically, the “ftm” (female to male) Reddit references our earlier post about Dr. Crane as the source for information about his practice, and goes on to allege that his practice has been dropped from the Kaiser Permanente California health plan due to “the amount of lawsuits” against him:

Crane Part 2 ftm reddit

We were not able to confirm whether Dr. Crane is still a listed physician with Kaiser Permanente from that insurer’s site, but at least one additional source seems to confirm that he is not. (The insurance section of Dr. Crane’s practice’s website also does not indicate that it is “in-network” with Kaiser Permanente.)

The types of injuries detailed above are truly sad. One can only imagine what life will be like for these patients in the years ahead, as they try to cope with malformed, misshapen, and certainly non-functional genitals. Moreover, many of these plaintiffs will have difficulty in maintaining proper excretory function, a complication that can have serious ramifications for health. The embarrassment, pain, expense, and disappointment must be profound. We ask, why are these actual injuries, suffered by actual transgender people, so much less important to the transgender community than such nebulous insults as “mis-gendering,” the inability to access a desired dressing room, or hurtful Tweets? The fact that Dr. Crane has been sued for medical malpractice in connection with transgender surgery no fewer than eight times in the last two years is a highly pertinent and relevant thing for transgender people to know. Why doesn’t the community want people to know it?

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15 thoughts on “Update: Top San Francisco phalloplasty surgeon now with 8 malpractice suits

  1. Sigh. F*ck our comments section on our “terrible” site for giving a damn about these natal females. Whoever signs on for phalloplasty and the related procedures should be given a thorough grounding in the fact that these kinds of outcomes are possible, you know? These are horrible outcomes, and it’s not just a lone person reporting them. I hope this doc has to pay through the nose.

    It must be hard to hear that current medical technology cannot really deliver your dream. But better to hear this and have to find ways to cope with it, than having to cope with such a surgical aftermath.

    The lack of concern from the trans-focused media is unbelievable. These are their readers and the people for whom they advocate. You’d think they’d care, at least enough to back off of the unmitigated digital praise of this provider. Apparently not.

    Thanks, worriedmom, for the update.

    Liked by 15 people

    • Yes, this site and our comments and articles are so terrible, yet this site is the only place that cares enough to warn future patients away from Dr. Crane.

      It is astounding that no other outlet is covering this — no LBGT media outlet, no transgender media outlet, no national or even local outlet. IMHO, the silence is partially due to not wanting to “out” transgender surgeries as dangerous (surgeons must to keep that lucrative wheel generously greased), and partially because FTMs (female-to-male transgender persons) just don’t rate among the male-dominated transgender culture. Many of the males who tend to run media outlets, whether LGBT, trans, or traditional, just don’t see an important story in young women’s genitalia being butchered by an incompetent surgeon.

      FTMs need to wake up and realize the only time the news media is interested in them is if the are “pregnant men.” Please, FTMs, take care of yourselves and look out for each other. No one else, other than a rare few, is willing to step up to the plate.

      Liked by 13 people

  2. Thanks, worriedmom. I was wondering what was going on with these lawsuits.

    It’s really a tragedy for these poor victims of an ideology that promises to make your body fit to an image of yourself that you think is true.

    Well, of course the the transgender outlets and the trans-focused MSM do not want to report on this because it could be the end of a lucrative business. We all know that once the lawsuits start rolling in, it will be hard to defend the mutilation of young people’s bodies. Also, there is less importance given to female bodied people, so not important enough to report.

    If the media only presents the “happy” side of reengineering your body, then no one will question. Let’s see the reality of it. If more people knew what was going on, there wouldn’t be so much blind support.

    Parents here who love their kids and are looking out for their best interest for their health in years to come are not (as The Trans Advocate has been quoted as saying about 4thwavenow) “a hate group pimping out their (the victims of Crane) suffering” nor is 4thwavenow a “creepy conspiracy site”. Why isn’t The Trans Advocate warning people against this butcher?

    Liked by 12 people

    • What does that even mean, “pimping out the victims”? So is it the case that calling attention to any victims of misbehavior or wrong-doing is “pimping them out?” How so? This just strikes me as “something to say” rather than attempting to engage in any way with the substance.

      As I understand the objections to our coverage, they seem, first, to stem from a misapprehension (perhaps willful) of the purpose of medical malpractice law. It is designed, in fact, just as in any other personal injury context, to determine whether negligence occurred and if it did, to punish it, and to compensate the victims of that negligence. As a side benefit, a successful malpractice lawsuit might deter future negligence, and reduce the number of potential future victims. Medical malpractice cases also increase knowledge in the medical community of what is appropriate care. The purpose of medical malpractice is not simply to pay future medical costs that might be uncovered, or otherwise to reimburse expenses that insurance does not. To suggest that the medical malpractice system is merely some kind of adjunct health insurance is, in a word, facetious.

      Second, it seems that activists are concerned that covering practitioners such as Dr. Crane will lead to increased “gate-keeping” and perhaps lower availability of medical care. Again, though, the question naturally arises – should the practitioners in this field be immune from liability, because the over-riding need for care is so great? Any care is better than no care? Or, harmful care for some is outweighed by competent care for others? That’s just really not the way the system works. In any other context, we would have compassion for the victims, and not tie ourselves into knots attempting to justify or “explain away” the injury. I have been shocked at the level of “victim-blaming” and rationalization that seems to be occurring in the FTM community around these facts – particularly when the plaintiffs themselves are members of that community, and certainly have suffered for it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: What’s Current: South Korean women hold two day #MeToo speakout

  4. A quote by Dr. Carter on his intro page: ”After initially meeting some members of the trans community, I was immediately drawn to them. Gender dysphoria challenges the basic pretenses that the medical community assumes to understand about chromosomal influence on gender. It takes a courageous group of individuals to tell the world that XX does not always result in a female and XY male. It is yet another example that the world cannot compartmentalize its citizens.” — Dr. Curtis Crane

    He sounds like an opportunist preying on a vulnerable community, spouting this tired old gender nonsense. But then again, aren’t most of these surgeons like that?

    Liked by 4 people

  5. At one time I was doing some research on transgender murder victims for something I was writing. One thing that stood out for me was how trans media sources seemed almost more concerned about whether the murder victims were misgendered in obituaries, police reports and mainstream media than they were about the crimes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think that’s more to do with the fact that they were misgendered for a long time, which implies justification for their murder, and appears to deliberately disrespect them, its victim blaming almost.

      Like

  6. I’ve not heard of this doctor, or the allegations against him, but I have known for some time that results for transmen where phalloplasty is concerned, quite frankly were pretty rubbish, which is why most transmen don’t get that surgery. If the doctor is incompetent and has botched these surgeries, that’s one thing, but if not and these are down to other reasons, then what can you do? Any time I’ve gone in for any surgery as an adult, I’ve been told of the risks and possible long term effects, and the decision to proceed has always been mine (I don’t remember being asked when I had my heart attack 5 years ago, but that was t routine surgery but an emergency procedure, I doubt anyone is going to hang around waiting for consent in those situations).
    I do feel sorry for these men though, please don’t mistake that I don’t.

    Like

  7. Due to transgender PR there are no longer any lesbians, other than themselves, so young dykes are being brainwashed into thinking they are men and must transition. Successful phalloplastry operations are few and far between and this is being kept from transitioners in order to keep the burgeoning industry in business. Isn’t there a consumer watchdog organisation that should be exposing the low success rate of these operations?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know this sounds like sort of an obvious comment, but if there were some operation that could give the patient a larger, fully-functioning penis, it would have been available to men a LONG time ago.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I wanted to bring a book to the attention of some of the contributors and curators of the blog. I just finished reading Robert Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford’s book, The Martians Have Landed: A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes (2012). It is definitely worth a read! Bartholomew is a sociologist and Radford is a science writer. Check out especially chapter 8 on “Pokémon Panics.” (p. 44) — “It’s one of the greatest cases of mass suggestion in history, In 1997, Japanese TV reported that watching a cartoon could make children sick. The reports triggered a wave of mass hysteria across the country.” Apparently, the cartoon had a lights flashing sequence that doctors said, in theory, could make a tiny fraction of children, with certain nervous system syndromes, possibly react with seizures. 12,000 children across Japan suddenly fell ill watching the show after that news report was made. The authors also cover the “Strawberry Virus” in Portugal. This time, a popular teen soap opera in Portugal had a character that made up and/or referred to a “strawberry virus,” but teen viewers of the show took it seriously, and 300 children from different school in different areas across the country suddenly fell ill from a disease that did not exist. The authors go on to feature the history of other such media-driven “plagues.” Fascinating and disturbing. What we hear from other parents again and again is the fact that they know for sure their child is “truly trans” because this is so painful, no child would make this up, and no teen certainly would wish this upon themselves or ask for this. But I doubt the Pokémon wave of 12,000 children consciously wished spontaneous seizures upon themselves, or that Portuguese teens wished nausea, vomiting, painful rashes, and trips to hospital on themselves. The recent wave of teens are very clearly experiencing these as very real and painful symptoms, and are not making it up. No doubt this all feels very real. No question these kids are being earnest and honest, as were the “strawberry virus” teens in Portugal. But the Portuguese teens were not medically castrated or had their breasts cut off, or were put on hormones for the rest of their lives, as consequence. The fact that serious and careful due diligence has been completely removed from this process and that no cognizance whatsoever is taken of even a portion of these teens responding to the power of mass suggestions (and no one is permitted to even raise this) is cruel, grossly negligent, and unconscionable.

    Liked by 1 person

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