Articles Posted in Orthopedic Mistakes

Holly Mozzone, 39, underwent a bursectomy and a repair to her labrum; surgery was performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gary Hunter. During the surgical procedure, Dr. Hunter placed a screw into her shoulder joint instead of on the limb of the joint.

As a result of this mistake, she developed mechanical and range-of-motion problems that necessitated 18 months of physical therapy. She was unable to continue working as a nursing assistant and now works as a flight attendant.

Mozzon filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hunter claiming liability for placing the screw during the operation in the shoulder joint instead of in the rim of the joint. That displacement of the surgical screw was the cause of her shoulder problems. The jury awarded $188,000 plus $150,000 in attorney fees.

Plaintiff Donald Brier brought a cause of action against a practice group and an orthopedic surgeon, Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group P.C., and David Kruger, MD, an orthopedic surgeon (collectively, Defendants), alleging medical malpractice arising out of a spinal surgery that went bad.

After the running of the applicable statute of limitations, Brier sought to amend his complaint. Both the original complaint and the amended version alleged that Dr. Kruger and his medical group chose not to plan and use an instrument that could have been utilized. The original complaint alleged the misuse of a skull clamp during the surgery.

Brier’s amended complaint included allegations of the improper use of a retractor blade. The trial court narrowly construed the original complaint as limited to a claim of the negligent usage of the skull clamp and denied Brier’s request to amend his complaint.
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In a confidential settlement, a 50-year-old woman underwent a microdiscectomy performed by a neurosurgeon. The patient’s blood pressure dropped after the procedure, and her condition then deteriorated.

A CT scan showed that the woman’s iliac artery was injured during the microdiscectomy. By the time the patient was transferred to another hospital for repair surgery, her medical status was severely compromised. Despite an emergency surgery to repair the artery, the patient died.

The patient was the owner of a small business earning about $25,000 per year. Her decedent now runs the business. She was survived by her husband and three adult children.

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Walter Hoover was 70 years old when he suffered a compression fracture in his back at L4. After the first rounds of treatment were found to be unsuccessful, he was transferred to a Veterans Administration Hospital where two neurosurgeons performed a corpectomy and diskectomy at L3-5 with placement of spinal instrumentation. This procedure was done to decompress the spine.

After the surgery, Hoover experienced paralysis in his left leg. Days later, he underwent additional surgeries to remove a misplaced surgical screw, reposition his surgically implanted hardware and to decompress his spinal cord.

Even after that series of surgeries, Hoover remained paralyzed and required multiple hospitalizations and treatments until he died several years later.

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John Antonucci was 52 years old at the time he underwent an MRI with contrast on his right hip. Two days later he was admitted to the hospital complaining of pain in the same hip. An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jason Fond, obtained a culture and later discharged Antonucci with a diagnosis of “inflammation.” One and a half days later, Antonucci was diagnosed as having septic arthritis.

As a result, Antonucci required a hip replacement and now suffers from chronic pain, which prevents him from doing many of the daily activities of living or returning to his job as a construction worker where he was earning $35,000 per year.

Antonucci and his wife filed suit against Dr. Fond and his practice, claiming that Dr. Fond chose not to timely treat the infection and that evidence of such infection was present on the culture results that the doctor ordered. The plaintiffs claimed that Antonucci required a timely surgical washout of the wound created by the contrast injection and that the delay in treatment allowed the infection to progress to dangerous levels.

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Robert Cruz filed a lawsuit alleging medical negligence against Dr. Robert R. Schenk and Hand Surgery Ltd., his medical practice, claiming that Dr. Schenk had chosen not to follow the standard of care. In his lawsuit, Cruz said Dr. Schenk used excessive injections and failed to adequately explore or treat the superficial radial right nerve, all of which, it was claimed, injured Cruz.

The jury trial proceeded without incident, but during the jury deliberations, the jury sent two questions to the trial judge. The first one was, “Is the Jury making a decision on how Mr. Cruz got originally hurt or are we making a decision on the quality of care that . . . provided?” The second question was, “After reading the ‘proximate cause statement’ is the jury correct to assume to interpret it in the following way: That if we, the jury, believe that Dr. Schank (sic) is not the only cause for Mr. Cruz’s injury, then we decide with the defense?”

The trial judge met with the parties to discuss the court’s response. The attorney for Cruz stated that the jury’s question should be answered “specifically and accurately.” However, the lawyer did not provide what response should be given to the jury by the judge and gave no written response to the court to give to the jury.

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Orthopedic surgeon Kris Alden, M.D., performed the right knee replacement surgery on the plaintiff, Lawrence Lapiana, on May 26, 2011.  Lapiana had a history of severe osteoarthritis in both knees. The surgery was completed at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital. During the knee replacement, the artery behind the knee was cut with a surgical instrument at the level of the tibial plateau.  At the time the artery was severed, the bleed was not detected. 

As a result of the severed artery, Lapiana developed post-surgery compartment syndrome with severe pain, numbness and swelling in the right knee and calf while still in the post-anesthesia care unit.

Dr. Alden requested a vascular surgery consult for a suspected arterial injury and also ordered an emergent arteriogram.  The arteriogram revealed a complete transection of the popliteal artery.

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It was announced in June 2013 that Johnson & Johnson, the maker of many healthcare products, will discontinue the sale of its metal-on-metal hip replacement products.  Although these metal-on-metal hip replacement products have not been recalled by Johnson & Johnson, it claims that decreased sales are the reason it is being discontinued. The decrease in sales — almost a 90% drop since 2007 —  has been caused by questions about the safety and effectiveness of the hip replacement joint.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had proposed a rule requiring manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip replacement products to follow an extensive safety process if they chose to continue selling the product. Johnson & Johnson did recall the DePuy ASR Acetabular System in August 2010 after reports of worldwide failings.

In addition, DePuy sold and marketed the Pinnacle Acetabular Cup System, which included inserts that held the replaced joint made of plastic, ceramic and metal. The health issue was related to the metal liner. 

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In a lawsuit resulting in a Cook County jury verdict, it was alleged by plaintiff Ryan Drummond that in August 2004, the defendant, Dr. Robert Brossard, a radiologist, chose not to correctly interpret x-rays of Drummond’s right hand. In addition, it was claimed that Dr. Brossard missed a fracture of the carpal bone of that same right hand. As a result of the doctor’s miss, Drummond was improperly treated with splinting for a sprain.

The fracture was later diagnosed on subsequent x-rays on Sept. 21, 2004. By that time, the window of opportunity for surgery to reduce the fracture had passed.

Drummond, 46, was a truck driver and sustained a nonunion of the trapezium, deformity to the base of the thumb, collapsed web space and development of severe arthritis. Drummond will need future arthroplasty surgery, which will mean a lengthy rehabilitation program.

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DGK saw her primary care physician, Dr. Raymond Di Pasquo, for recently developed skin lesions. After having seen Dr. Di Pasquo on Nov. 20, 2001, DGK consulted with a dermatologist, Dr. Robert Signore, who biopsied the lesion on her right lateral thorax on Dec. 3, 2001.

The biopsy was sent to Pinkus Dermatopathology Laboratory, where it was interpreted by the defendant physician, Dr. Darius Mehregan.

On Dec. 20, 2001, Dr. Mehregan reported that the specimen was squamous cell carcinoma or a type of skin cancer; a low-grade malignancy believed to have originated from the neck of the hair follicle. This kind of tumor is reported to rarely progress into an invasive squamous cell carcinoma. From there, DGK was referred to a surgeon specializing in chemosurgery for removal of skin tumors.

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