Our Boston medical malpractice attorneys handled a case the following case:
On June 3, 2008, the plaintiff was seen by his primary care physician after noticing a small lump in the bicep of his right arm, and was referred to a general surgeon for consultation. On examination, the defendant surgeon noted a palpable mass in the medial aspect of his right upper arm against his humerus, and diagnosed the mass as a “subcutaneous lipoma”, warranting surgical excision.
Approximately two weeks later, the plaintiff underwent the surgical excision of his right arm mass at a suburban, Massachusetts surgical center. The defendant began the procedure by making a 3 cm transverse incision and dissecting down to the mass. Once the defendant was able to observe the mass, she became concerned about the possibility of nerve attachment.
Uncertain as to the potential innervation of the mass, the defendant requested an intra-operative consult with a surgeon that happened to be operating in a nearby operating suite, but with whom the defendant was totally unfamiliar. The consulting surgeon observed the plaintiff’s right arm mass from a distance, but was uncertain as to either the diagnosis or potential of innervation, and left the O.R. shortly thereafter.
Despite her own uncertainty and the uncertainty of the consulting surgeon, the defendant nevertheless proceeded to clamp the attachments above and below the mass and transected the mass. Upon transection, it was clear to the defendant that nerve fibers were within the mass and that the plaintiff’s ulnar nerve had been completely severed.
The defendant immediately requested an urgent intra-operative consultation with an experienced hand surgeon, who evaluated the transection and emergently attempted a primary repair of the plaintiff’s ulnar nerve. Despite best efforts at repairs, the plaintiff was left with permanent, partial paralysis of his right arm and hand as a result of the transection.
Plaintiff’s expert, a leading Boston surgeon, was prepared to testify at trial that the defendant was negligent in her decision to proceed with an elective resection of a mass once she encountered a mass that was intra-muscular with questionable nerve involvement, versus stopping the procedure and referring the plaintiff to a surgeon experienced in excising these types of masses. The type of mass encountered by the defendant surgeon, a Schwannoma, can be freed from nerve attachment with no injury to nerve when performed by a qualified and experienced surgeon.
At the time of the transection, the plaintiff was a 41-year-old, married father of one young daughter and his wife was pregnant with twins. Prior to his injury, he earned approximately $43,000 per year as a heavy equipment operator.
As a result of his right arm impairment, the plaintiff was deemed permanently disabled from his job as a heavy equipment operator and granted Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits.
The case was settled following one full day of mediation, approximately eight weeks before its scheduled October 2012 trial date.
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