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CT Scan Leads To $2.85 Million Lawsuit Award

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Because an orthopedic surgeon interrupted treatment for bleeding in favor of a CT knee scan, his patient became a paraplegic, and the surgeon should pay $2.85 million, a South Carolina jury decided.

Randy Green of Marion, South Carolina, suffered major injuries during an April 2004 automobile accident, including severed arteries in his forearm, according to testimony at the trial, which took place earlier this month in Horry County, South Carolina. Green was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The medical center earlier reached a separate, confidential malpractice settlement with Green and his wife, Ann.

Green was being prepared for surgery to stop the bleeding, and his vital signs were unstable, according to testimony. But orthopedic surgeon Wayne Bauerle, MD, ordered Green to be pulled from the preoperative area for a CT scan of his knee, which was also injured in the accident.

The scan took 30 minutes. The delay in treatment for the bleeding, according to testimony, caused Green to suffer cardiac and respiratory arrest. He was resuscitated, but his spinal cord was affected, and he is permanently paralyzed from just above the waist down, according to testimony.

Grady Query of Charleston, South Carolina, one of the lawyers representing the Greens, told the Sun News newspaper of Myrtle Beach that Green’s blood pressure when he was sent for the scan was 72 over 56. Query said:

Doctors from Harvard Medical School, Charleston, and Connecticut testified that this was an indication that the patient was on the verge of a cardiac arrest and that to interrupt the treatment of the arm was negligent.

The jury ordered Dr. Bauerle to pay $2.3 million to Green and another $550,000 to his wife. Ann is her husband’s caregiver.

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