Surgeon accused of performing operation ‘doomed to fail’

Testimony in a medical malpractice lawsuit against an orthopedic surgeon suggests that the defendant not only botched the operation, but that he should never have tried to perform it in the first place. One expert witness said that the procedure the defendant attempted, inserting a metal plate onto the patient’s clavicle, was like trying to insert a screw into unstable drywall — “impossible,” in his words.

“It [the operation] was unsuccessful when he closed the skin,” the testifying physician told the jury.

The plaintiff in this case went to the defendant for treatment of her clavicle, which had been severed in three places years before. The surgeon prescribed implanting a six-inch metal plate to stabilize the bone.

The expert witness, an orthopedic surgeon himself, later said that given the woman’s condition, the defendant erred when he decided to perform that procedure. Once underway, he also failed to do it properly. He was unable to screw the plate into place, due to the condition of the bone. He tried to use sutures to hold it down, but the sutures sawed off the end of the bone.

Despite assurances from the surgeon that the surgery went “beautifully,” the woman lost much of the use of her left arm. She suffers from deformity and pain in her shoulder and cannot drive, do chores or ride horses, which she used to enjoy. She also frequently has trouble sleeping, her husband said.

The woman is seeking $1 million in damages.

A double whammy of a surgeon negligently ordering a surgery that could not possibly work, and then committing surgical errors, is certainly a recipe for disaster.

Source: Star Exponent, “EXCLUSIVE: Culpeper jury in place for $1M medical malpractice case,” Rhonda Simmons, Sept. 30, 2013

Surgical Errors


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