Trauma Care: Unstable Patient Sent for CT; Delay in Surgery Led to Paralysis, Jury Awards $2.85M

February 1, 2014 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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A South Carolina jury awarded a patient and his wife one of the largest judgments in the state for 2013, $2.85 million, in a medical malpractice case against an orthopedic surgeon in which a delay in surgery caused the patient to suffer cardiac and respiratory arrest, which in turn caused permanent paralysis from just above the waist down.

The patient arrived at the hospital with severe injuries, including severed forearm arteries, from an automobile accident. While the patient was in the preoperative area, the orthopedic surgeon ordered a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the patient's knee. The patient was sent to radiology for the study, causing the surgery to be delayed 30 minutes, during which time the patient went into cardiac and respiratory arrest and had to be resuscitated. According to his lawyer, the patient had no blood pressure or pulse after the cardiac arrest...

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