On May 17, 2017, a six-person Indiana medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the amount of $744,000 against a now deceased orthopedic surgeon whom the jury found to have rushed to perform unnecessary surgery on a 16-year-old’s shoulder without first attempting conservative treatment. The unnecessary shoulder surgery left the teenager with pain that he will have the rest of his life.
The teenager suffered a shoulder injury during a wrestling match on January 28, 2012. His parents brought him to the defendant orthopedic surgeon, who had been the orthopedic surgeon for the University of Notre Dame football team for 36 years. The defendant orthopedic surgeon diagnosed the teenager with a relatively minor shoulder injury during the initial examination that occurred on February 3, 2012.
The teenager continued to experience some pain for which he returned to the defendant orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up appointment in April 2012. The defendant orthopedic surgeon mentioned possible surgery that would involve removing the end of the clavicle in order to alleviate pain. The Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendant orthopedic surgeon told the teenager and his parents that the choice was either to have the surgery or to continue to suffer the pain. The parents contended in their medical malpractice lawsuit that the defendant orthopedic surgeon failed to discuss or recommend that other available conservative treatments, such as steroid injections, be tried first.
As required by Indiana medical malpractice law, the parents initially filed their medical malpractice claim with a three-member medical review panel made up of orthopedic doctors. The medical review panel reportedly determined that the defendant orthopedic surgeon should have attempted more conservative treatment options before proceeding with the shoulder surgery.
The defense argued to the Indiana medical malpractice jury that the teenager’s parents chose the surgical option for their son because they wanted him to be able to return to his sports activities as soon as possible. The defense also argued that the unremitting pain the teenager now has is due to other injuries that he had suffered in the past.
The medical malpractice plaintiffs’ attorney asked the jury during his closing argument to award $10,000 per year for the teenager’s pain and suffering, for a period of sixty two years. The Indiana medical malpractice jury’s verdict apparently was based on $12,000 per year.
Pursuant to Indiana medical malpractice law, the deceased defendant’s medical malpractice insurance will be responsible for the first $250,000 of the verdict, and the Indiana Department of Insurance Patient Compensation Fund will be responsible for the balance. A decision with regard to an appeal has not been made by the defense.
If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of unnecessary surgery in Indiana or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Indiana medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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