NH Medical Malpractice Settlement: $1 Million for Injuries Following Surgery

Patient developed compartment syndrome and permanent foot drop following a heart valve repair surgery

2016 NH Medical Malpractice Trial Report

The plaintiff is a 47-year-old man who developed compartment syndrome and permanent foot drop following a heart valve repair surgery.

In September 2012, the plaintiff underwent an elective minimally invasive mitral valve repair performed by the defendant surgeons. During surgery, the plaintiff was under anesthesia for approximately 10 hours and on cardiopulmonary bypass for approximately 5 hours. Following surgery, the plaintiff was transferred to the ICU in stable condition.

The plaintiff did not wake up from surgery until 2 days later. During those two days in the ICU, the defendant hospital and nursing staff noted diminished pulses in the plaintiff’s lower legs, indicating reduced blood flow to the lower legs. Additionally, the plaintiff’s troponin and enzyme lab values were elevated, indicating potential damage to his muscles. Despite signs of potential diminished blood flow to the legs and of potential muscle damage, the defendants failed to perform a work-up of the plaintiff, including a thorough work-up of his lower legs.

When the plaintiff ultimately woke up, he immediately reported excruciating pain in his right lower leg. He was then examined and found to be without sensation and motor function in his right foot. An ultrasound and compartment pressure check were performed, and the compartment pressures in the medial and anterior compartments of his right lower leg were found to be markedly elevated, indicating compartment syndrome.

The plaintiff was taken to the operating room for four compartment right lower leg fasciotomies. Unfortunately, by that point the compartment pressures had been elevated for a prolonged period of time and the plaintiff had sustained permanent, irreversible damage to the muscles and nerves in his right lower leg. As a result, he was left with a permanent leg injury requiring him to wear a leg brace.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant surgeons were negligent when they left the plaintiff on cardiopulmonary bypass for five hours (an unacceptably long period of time), which increased his risk for developing ischemia (reduced blood flow) to his lower legs and for developing compartment syndrome. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant nursing staff and hospital staff were negligent when they failed to recognize and appreciate signs and symptoms of post-op ischemia and compartment syndrome and that they delayed in obtaining treatment for the plaintiff’s compartment syndrome, thereby causing him to suffer irreversible and permanent nerve and muscle damage.

The case settled for $1,000,000.00.

Lubin & Meyer attorney Nicholas Cappiello represented the plaintiff in this New Hampshire medical malpractice lawsuit.

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