JOHNSON COUNTY, KANSAS. DEFENSE VERDICT.
The Plaintiff was a 91 year old patient who presented to the emergency department with severe arm pain following a reported fall into a flower bed at his home in May 2014. Our clients were an emergency medicine physician, emergency medicine physician assistant, and their practice group. The defendants assessed the patient and noted only evidence of abrasions and skin tears to his right forearm. An x-ray of the right arm confirmed there was no fracture, but a focus of potential subcutaneous air along the proximal radius was identified by the radiologist. This subtle finding was not documented as being noted by defendants who discharged the patient home with instructions to follow-up with his primary care physician in 3-5 days. After months of worsening of the condition, it progressed to compartment syndrome and gas gangrene. The patient eventually was discovered to have two separate 2 cm and 4 cm pieces of wood embedded deep in the tissues of his right forearm. These were successfully removed in surgeries performed in July and August of 2014. The patient ultimately required a total of six surgical procedures and lost function in the affected arm. The patient died in 2015 and shortly thereafter the case was filed by his daughter, as heir and administrator of his estate. A separate wrongful death claim was voluntarily dismissed with prejudice the Friday before trial. On behalf of the patient’s estate the plaintiff sought damages for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Economic damages included medical and skilled nursing home expenses which totaled $499,246.45. Non-economic damages in the amount of $800,000 were also sought for the loss of use of the right arm, pain/suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life. The only settlement demand ever offered by plaintiff was $1,525,000 made three months before trial. Following an hour and forty minutes of deliberation the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict in favor of the defendant healthcare providers.