Medical Negligence - Malpractice Resulting in Radial Nerve Injury
This medical malpractice physician negligence case arose on September 30, 1998, when the plaintiff, a thirty-one year old woman, underwent surgery to remove a metal plate and screws from her right upper arm. Prior to the surgery, the defendant informed the plaintiff that there may be a “slight incidence of fracture” to the arm following the procedure. There was a significant dispute as to whether or not the defendant doctor had mentioned nerve injury as a possible risk of the surgery. Plaintiff adamantly denied that any such risk was discussed with her. Despite this risk, plaintiff elected to have the plate removed because it was the source of serious discomfort.
Unfortunately, during surgery, plaintiff’s radial nerve was severed as a result of defendant’s negligence. Immediately post-operatively, plaintiff was found to have a complete radial nerve palsy and a resulting wrist drop. After the serious radial nerve injury was discovered, defendant altered his records to suggest that he had a discussion with plaintiff prior to the procedure regarding his concern about “her radial nerve.” Notwithstanding his purported concern about injury to the radial nerve, defendant stated in his operative note that the “radial nerve was not visualized.” The mere fact that there was an injury to the nerve and defendant failed to identify and protect the nerve from injury, was sufficient to establish liability in this case. Since radial nerve injury is one of the known complications of this procedure, it is mandatory that the defendant surgeon identify and protect the nerve from damage during the hardware removal procedure.
Due to defendant’s medical negligence, plaintiff required right radial nerve repair with sural nerve graft and two tendon transfer surgeries in an attempt to restore wrist extension. Consequently, she suffered a 25% loss of function of her hand and wrist, has significant scarring and disfigurement of her upper arm, and experiences constant and severe pain in her arm. Plaintiff’s settlement included compensation for her medical expenses, lost wages, and future lost earning capacity.
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