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Patient Sustains Permanent Injury after Botched Surgery

On October 26, 2011, Carol Nettles underwent surgery for a carpal tunnel release and an open reduction internal fixation in the hope that it would relieve some of her persistent pain. Unfortunately, the outcome of the botched operation left her with even more severe pain than she had started with and a permanent deformity in her collarbone. She explains that Dr. Rutkowski, the orthopedic surgeon that had performed the surgery, knew that the procedure was doomed to fail, but continued on anyway, causing irreparable damage in his wake. For this reason, the patient has decided to pursue a $1 million medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor that she holds responsible. The claim explains that during the procedure, Dr. Rutkowski noticed that a distal clavicle was severely affected by osteoporosis-a disease "in which the bones become extremely porous, are subject to fracture, and heal slowly"-but continued to manipulate it in a risky manner, anyway.

While trying to stabilize the clavicle with a metal plate, he was unable to complete the procedure with conventional methods because of the condition of the patient's bone. Instead of safely removing the plate, he attempted to secure it with sutures rather than screws. In doing so, Nettles claims that "the sutures acted like a saw and cut the collarbone off at the distal end." In a follow-up visit with the doctor, Nettles expressed that she had been suffering from severe pain since the surgery, so she was referred to a shoulder specialist at the University of Virginia Medical Center. While there, Dr. Angelo Dacus decided that it would be best to remove the metal plate, the screws and the remaining sutures that had been left in her shoulder. Unfortunately, it was too late to repair the damage that had been done by the previous surgery, however, and Nettles was left with persistent pain and an immobile left arm and shoulder.

Because of this, Nettles believes that Dr. Rutkowski should be held responsible for the permanent injury that he has caused. Not only had he botched a fairly routine surgery, but the patient believes that he never should have attempted it in the first place. In the lawsuit that she has since filed, she claims that the doctor had acted negligently in failing to refer her to a more experienced surgeon in a timely manner and in failing to obtain her informed consent-as she believes that he withheld information about the risks that the surgery could pose. Her day in court has been scheduled for September 2013, allowing her ample time to retain the testimony of medical experts. Although instances of medical malpractice such as this seem like they would be a rare occurrence, the prevalence of preventable medical errors is much greater than most would think. Statistics have even shown that approximately 185,000 people are killed annually at the hands of a negligent medical professional.

For this reason, if you have been forced to suffer through a similar situation as Carol Nettles, you should not hesitate to take legal action, as well. When a patient places their trust in the hands of a healthcare worker of any kind-whether it be a surgeon, a general physician, an obstetrician or a nursing home caretaker-they should not have to worry that they will receive anything less than a standard level of care. Unfortunately, Nettles became the victim of a surgeon's inexperience and poor judgment, but she has made the wise decision to exercise her right to pursue compensation. As such, you should not hesitate to follow suit if you too have endured the ramifications of a medical professional's negligent decisions. For further information, contact a Connecticut personal injury lawyer from our firm today.

Categories: Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury


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