Right now I have been reading recent medical malpractice verdicts to find great examples to include in a new book. The one below got my attention. It was a surprising verdict.
Surprising verdict in a fractured wrist case
The fifty-three year old plaintiff went through cervical surgery. When she awoke, her left wrist was swollen and hurting. She was told it was nothing to worry about. She was discharged three days after the surgery.
The wrist pain continued and an x-ray was taken two days after discharge. It showed a comminuted fracture. The plaintiff continued to complain of wrist pain. She claimed the fracture occurred during surgery.
The hospital denied the injury was sustained during surgery and contended that following surgery the medical record indicated that the plaintiff’s grip strength was tested and it was normal. The defendant presented an expert who theorized that the fracture likely occurred during a fall. The jury returned a defense verdict.
The surprising verdict of the jury makes no sense to me. The patient went to surgery without a broken wrist. She woke up with a broken wrist. She was under the control of the surgical staff while anesthetized.
What caused her fracture? Why didn’t the physician order an x-ray when she complained of wrist pain? Can you have normal grip strength and still have a fracture? If the defense argued the patient fell, how and when did she fall? Did the fall take place in the operating room?
This case is an example of one in which we will never know what happened to cause that fracture. I am surprised the jury did not find negligence. Are you? Share your thoughts in the comment box.
Case: Hicks v. Pikeville Medical Center, Pike County (KY) Circuit Court, Case No. 10-394, as reported in Laska, L. (Ed) Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements and Experts, August 2013, page 16
Pat Iyer MSN RN LNCC is president of The Pat Iyer Group.