$310,420 VERDICT- NURSING MALPRACTICE

$310,420 VERDICT- NURSING MALPRACTICE - NEGLIGENT FAILURE TO FOLLOW PODIATRIST'S ORDERS FOR BUNIONECTOMY PATIENT TO AVOID WEIGHT BARING - DISPLACEMENT OF SURGICAL SITE - THREE SUBSEQUENT SURGERIES - PERMANENT PAIN.

Ocean County

This was a nursing malpractice case involving a female plaintiff in her 60's who underwent a left sided bunionectomy in which the plaintiff contended that the defendant nurse negligently failed to follow the non-party podiatric surgeon's orders for the patient to avoid weight baring on the left foot. The plaintiff, who indicated that she was advised she would be required to void before she could be discharged after the same day procedure, contended that when she felt uncomfortable using crutches, the defendant nurse gave her a walker, which she found cumbersome. The plaintiff contended that weight was placed on the left foot where the surgical site and the requirement for three additional surgical procedures over the next five years. The plaintiff maintained that she will suffer permanent pain, be unable to wear high heeled shoes and has been forced to give up rigorous recreational activities, such as power walking, which she formerly enjoyed.

The plaintiff had undergone similar surgery to the right foot approximately one month earlier and was also given instructions to avoid weight baring at that time. The plaintiff indicated that she was able to ambulate with crutches and avoid weight baring after the first surgery. The plaintiff maintained that as of the time of this second surgery, the right foot was still tender. The plaintiff contended that because of this, she advised the nurse that she was not comfortable using crutches and that the nurse obtained a walker for her to use, reassuring the plaintiff that she could trust the nurse and use the walker safely. The plaintiff contended that she felt queasy and dizzy after the general anesthetic and that because of this and the fact that she was still recuperating from the first surgery, she was not able to avoid placing weight on the left foot when she went to the restroom. The plaintiff contended that she was suffering from excruciating pain and that a number of interns were attending to her when the Chief of Staff arrived. The plaintiff contended that after bandaging was applied to the surgical site, she was discharged.

The plaintiff testified that she remained in severe pain and visited the non-party podiatrist at his office the following day and that the podiatrist confirmed the displacement. The podiatrist, who testified as an expert, and the plaintiff's nursing expert contended that the nurse deviated in either directing or permitting the plaintiff to place weight on the area in contravention of the podiatrist's orders. The defendant nurse vigorously denied advising the plaintiff that she could trust her to use a walker if she felt uncomfortable doing so and contended that she had never advised a patient in 20 years that the patient "could trust me." The nurse further contended that the use of a walker was not proscribed by the orders or in-and-of itself improper and the podiatrist ultimately concurred.

The plaintiff's expert contended that one could avoid placing weight with a walker, but to do so would be somewhat difficult. The expert contended that once the plaintiff advised that she was not comfortable using a walker, the nurse should have either ordered a wheelchair, the use of which would also constitute "ambulation" or have her void in a bed pan. The plaintiff's expert contended that the nurses primary function is to protect the surgical site and that by advising the plaintiff to use a walker or otherwise making greater efforts to prevent her from weight bearing, she had deviated. The defendant contended that the plaintiff had undergone the identical surgery to the other foot a month earlier, was aware of the on the foot, she was clearly negligent herself. The plaintiff argued that although she was so aware, she relied upon the nurse's expertise, arguing that this defendant's position should be rejected.

The plaintiff's podiatric surgeon related that the plaintiff underwent corrective surgery the next day with the use of a "K-wire." The plaintiff contended that the wire caused great pain and that it was removed approximately one month later. The plaintiff contended that she continued to experience significant pain and that approximately five years later, she underwent another surgery in which screws were removed as planned.

The plaintiff contended that she will suffer permanent pain, be unable to remain active with her grandchildren and that she has been deprived of the ability to enjoy her golden years. The plaintiff also maintained have been be unable to wear high heeled shoes and continuing activities such as power walking which she formerly enjoyed.

The jury found the defendant nurse 100% negligent and awarded $310,000.

REFERENCE

Pucylowski vs. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, et al. Docket no. OCN-L-2039-98;

Judge Edward M Oles, 4-02.

Attorney for Plaintiff: Robert R. Fuggi of Fuggi & Fuggi in Toms River.