Compression Injuries During Surgery, Who is to Blame?
Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC
We were contacted by a middle aged woman who had recently undergone surgery.
She and her family were told that her surgery was anticipated to last
approximately an hour and a half. Concerns arose during the surgery and,
ultimately, the surgery lasted almost six hours. When the patient awoke,
she had pain, numbness and partial paralysis in both arms. Obviously she
was asleep during the surgery, however, subsequent treating doctors explained
to the patient she appeared to have suffered nerve damage because of extended
compression and/or a positioning issue during the surgery. At this point
of the phone call and without any discovery or document review yet being
done, it was difficult to ascertain if she had been repositioned during
the surgery at all. These cases are often very difficult because the nursing/hospital
team of defendants tends to explain that positioning is directed by the
surgeon or the anesthesiologist. The surgeon tends to explain that he
or she is focused on the surgery and the positioning is the responsibility
of the nursing staff or, perhaps, the anesthesiologist who is watching
for signs of concern during the procedure. The anesthesiologist tends
to express that positioning or repositioning is the responsibility of
the nursing staff or the surgeon. In that the patient is unconscious during
the surgery, it is very difficult to ascertain who is responsible for
compression injuries. Additionally, some patients suffer compression injuries
even in the best of care.