After six days of trial and three and a half hours of jury deliberations, a Maine medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant anesthesiologist. The patient sued the anesthesia practice that employed the anesthesiologist as well as a hospital, alleging that he was injured as a result of having his arm improperly positioned, padded, and monitored during a surgical procedure. The patient alleged hat he suffered an injury to his ulnar nerve that caused permanent damage to his left hand that resulted in him becoming totally disabled.
The 38-year-old man had a right nephrectomy (surgical removal of his right kidney) that was completed in approximately 41 minutes with no complications. He was given an epidural pre-operatively for post-operative pain and placed in the left lateral decubitus position with an axillary roll and with arm boards and gel padding at his heels, arms, and feet. The man complained only about thigh paresthesia two days after his surgery; he was in the hospital for a total of six days and had no complaints at the time of discharge.
About two weeks after his discharge from the hospital, the man complained to his surgeon that he had numbness in his pinky and ring finger of his left hand extending into his palm. The surgeon referred him to a neurologist who diagnosed the man with an ulnar neuropathy.
After he filed his Maine medical malpractice lawsuit, the man was deposed by the defendants’ medical malpractice lawyers. The man testified under oath during his deposition that he immediately noticed numbness and tingling in his left arm upon awakening from surgery and that he informed his surgeon of his numbness and tingling a couple of days later. He further testified that he did not notify the nursing staff of his numbness and tingling during his hospitalization (his explanation for not advising the nurses: he was under the effects of pain medication for several days following the surgery and he was unable to report his symptoms immediately). Nonetheless, the medical records during his hospitalization stated that he was awake, alert, and had no left upper extremity complaints.
The plaintiff’s anesthesiologist expert who testified during trial stated that his testimony was dependent on the plaintiff’s testimony that he had symptoms immediately after the surgery despite no mention of complaints of numbness or tingling in the medical records (the expert testified that the paresthesia recorded in the medical records was related to the plaintiff’s arm and not his thigh as stated in the records). The plaintiff’s anesthesiologist expert conceded there was nothing in the medical records that anything was done improperly by either the anesthesiologist or the nurses yet he testified that the standard of care requires position checks to be performed every 15-20 minutes.
The defendants’ anesthesiology expert testified during the trial that there was no evidence in the medical records that the plaintiff suffered an ulnar nerve injury during his six-day hospitalization and that the medical records contained sufficient documentation to demonstrate the patient was appropriately positioned, padded, and monitored. The defendants’ anesthesiology expert testified that in his opinion, it was more likely the plaintiff sustained his injury following his discharge from the hospital.
If you, a family member, or a friend may be the victim of medical negligence in Maine or in another U.S. state, you should promptly contact a Maine medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may agree to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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