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Surgeon’s Medical Malpractice Appeal in Botched Amputation Case Denied

By Jack H. FarnbauchNovember 9, 2019

After Rickey Kennedy crushed two fingers on his left hand in a work-related accident, his index finger was amputated. Christopher R. Glock, M.D., was the orthopedic hand surgeon that performed the amputation. Dr. Glock also later performed a neuroma procedure to remove a painful end of a nerve on the nub.

Not more than a week after the procedure, Kennedy experienced pain in his thumb and called Dr. Glock’s office. Dr. Glock then performed another surgery to repair the affected nerve with a graft of his other thumb.. A medical review panel found nothing that supported that Dr. Glock failed to meet the applicable standard of care but noted that a material issue of fact existed regarding Kennedy’s informed consent before the neuroma procedure.

Kennedy filed a complaint for medical malpractice and Dr. Glock responded with a motion for partial summary judgment. A Vigo Superior Court jury ultimately ruled in Kennedy’s favor, awarding him $2.3 million, despite the statutory limit of $1.25 million. Dr. Glock filed a motion to correct error as well as a motion for judgment on the evidence, but those motions were denied.

Dr. Glock then appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals seeking to look at the informed consent provided to Kennedy before the neuroma procedure. In the Appeals Court, the Court looked at the expert testimony from the case and noted that roughly 25% of people who undertake a neuroma procedure do not experience a reduction in the level and intensity of pain to the point that the patient says “that was worth it”; that roughly 75% of people who do experience success do not have complete elimination of pain; and that a primary component of a discussion on the risks of a neuroma procedure includes discussing the recurrence of pain or the lack of eliminating the pain. The Court stated in its opinion “that a finding that reasonable persons, if properly informed, would have rejected the proposed treatment is not against the great weight of the evidence and conclude that the evidence most favorable to the judgment along with all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence supports the judgment with regard to this issue.”

The appellate panel further concluded that it could not say that the trial court abused its discretion in denying Glock’s motion to correct error, noting that the pain Kennedy experienced before the procedure was in two other fingers, not his thumb. Likewise, it found that the pain following the procedure was located mostly in Kennedy’s thumb and is permanent, and that the problem with his thumb interferes with his work.

You can read more here.