Cook County Jury Sides with Doctors in Severed Artery in Knee Replacement Trial

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.

Lapiana required additional surgery, which consisted of reconstruction of the artery as well as a vein graft and an emergency four-compartment fasciotomy to prevent limb loss.

During the vascular repair procedure, the vascular surgeon noticed the popliteal was completely transected and the anterior tibial artery was shredded.

Lapiana subsequently underwent two irrigation and debridement surgeries on May 28 and May 31, 2011, a skin graft from the right thigh to close the wound on June 3, 2011, and suture removal on June 10, 2011.

In August 2011 Lapiana developed a right leg abscess with drainage due to MRSA infection, which required additional irrigation and debridement.

On Sept. 3, 2011, the plaintiff underwent wound excision and rotation flap closure on the right leg. In the lawsuit brought by Lapiana naming Dr. Alden as a defendant, it was alleged that the doctor was negligent in severing the popliteal artery with the surgical saw and also for damaging nerves and veins during the knee replacement surgery causing Lapiana to undergo  numerous surgeries and sustain permanent sensory loss on the bottom of his right foot.  It was also alleged that Lapiana had motor loss, daily swelling, pain and severe disfigurement.  His medical bills totaled more than $355,000. 

The defendant doctor argued that this type of arterial injury is a known complication of the surgery and occurs in the absence of negligence. The patient’s injuries were unavoidable based on his severe osteoarthritis and deformity, and only the artery was injured during the making of the pilot hole drill as evidenced by the fact that the nerves and veins remained intact.

The doctor further asserted that the key with this known complication is to provide timely follow-up care within 6-7 hours.

Dr. Alden maintained that he promptly recognized the arterial injury and ordered the vascular consult and arteriogram.  The plaintiff underwent the vascular repair surgery within 4 ½ hours.  The jury deliberated for just 47 minutes before reaching its verdict.

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling medical negligence matters, hospital negligence cases and nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Garfield Park, Polish Village, Edgebrook, Pulaski Park), Oak Park, River Grove, Schiller Park, Northlake, Brookfield, Bedford Park, Alsip, Blue Island and Palos Heights, Ill.

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