A Rhode Island man was awarded $4 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed over a botched orthopedic surgery that left him with permanent nerve damage and a deformed hand.
The orthopedic surgery malpractice lawsuit was filed in 2002 by Robert Baird, Jr. against Dr. Kenneth J. Morrissey as a result of treatment in 1999.
Following a three week trial, on May 7, 2009 a Providence jury found that medical negligence by the orthopedic surgeon caused severe and disabling injuries for the Baird, and awarded him $1.5 million for physical pain, $1.5 million for mental suffering, $500,000 for disfigurement and $500,000 for lost wages.
Baird was treated by Dr. Morrissey after he began experiencing extreme pain in his right arm, which ultimately led to surgery to remove a benign tumor and to improve Baird’s mobility.
Following the surgery, Baird started experiencing additional pain in his right hand, which began changing color and sweating. A subsequent surgery by a different doctor revealed that a nerve in his arm had been sliced during the original surgery.
Baird alleged that his hand has been left deformed in a claw-like shape, causing him constant pain as a result of the orthopedic surgeon’s negligence. Baird has also become addicted to painkillers as a result of his injuries and requires medication to sleep at night.
Nerve damage is a common cause of orthopedic medical malpractice suits. Orthopedic surgeons work on the delicate musculoskeletal system, and negligence during surgery can result in chronic pain, nerve damage, loss of mobility or even surgery on the wrong limb.
According to a study by the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, orthopedic surgery ranks fifth among medical specialties for the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed, and fifth in the number of claims that result in some form of financial payment for the plaintiff.
The study found that a failure of the doctor to effectively communicate with the patient and family, failure to obtain proper, informed, consent, and failure to promptly assess complications were leading contributors to malpractice suits against orthopedic surgeons.