After a four-day jury trial, Neal Lewis and Brandy Balding obtained a defense verdict.
Plaintiff alleged that he was misdiagnosed and received negligent treatment after a left biceps tendon rupture. After an injury at work, the patient was seen in defendant’s urgent care clinic. A physician assistant diagnosed a forearm and arm strain and referred the patient to the occupational medicine physician. The occupational medicine physician suspected distal biceps tendon rupture and referred the patient to an orthopedic surgeon. Treatment and scheduling approval issues led to an appointment twenty days after the injury.
Surgery was performed almost five weeks after the injury. The treating orthopedic surgeon documented prior to surgery that the delay in the referral would result in difficulties. After conclusion of post-operative treatment, the patient experienced suboptimal recovery. The treating surgeon documented the surgical delay caused the patient’s poor outcome. A second surgery was performed to improve the patient’s pain and disability, but did not result in anticipated improvement.
The Plaintiff argued the defendant clinic, including a physician assistant, a physician, and the administrative staff, were negligent for failing to obtain timely operative treatment. Through testimony by his standard of care expert, causation expert, and treating orthopedic surgeon, the Plaintiff argued there was a three-week window of opportunity for surgically repairing the rupture. The Plaintiff’s standard of care expert testified the physician assistant misdiagnosed the injury. This expert also testified the physician failed to appreciate the existence of a three-week window of opportunity to repair the biceps tendon rupture, failed to order an urgent orthopedic referral, and failed to communicate to the staff working on the referral that it was time-sensitive. The standard of care expert also criticized the clinic staff for how they carried out the physician’s order for a referral and for not acting in a more urgent manner. Plaintiff’s experts testified the patient’s residual pain and weakness were caused by the performance of the surgical repair greater than three weeks after injury.
Standard of care experts for the defense supported the care by the physician assistant, occupational medicine physician, and the clinic employees. The defense causation expert testified that the patient’s outcome was a consequence of the original biceps tendon injury and of the surgical repair procedure. The defense’s physician experts all disputed the existence of a three-week window of opportunity to successfully repair the tendon rupture. After one hour of deliberations, the jury found in favor of the defendant.