Court dismisses malpractice claim based on fractured jaw during hemorrhoid surgery
Edie Taylor needed to have surgery on her hemorrhoids. When she woke up, her mouth was more sore than her rectum. She raised several complaints and saw several specialists before someone made note that in addition to "perioral lacerations" and "small scrapings," she had exposed alveolar bone near the tongue and a fractured mandible. She filed a lawsuit against the Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Karen McCarthy, and McCarthy's employers, arguing that Taylor was a victim of medical malpractice. She presented the testimony of another CRNA to support her claim.
Although McCarthy apparently admitted that she encountered difficulty intubating Taylor, the insurance attorneys argued that Taylor had not presented sufficient evidence to support the claim that she fractured Taylor's jaw. They argued that it was insufficient to argue that such an injury could not happen without negligence, and they also argued that a CRNA is not qualified to support the victim's claim.
The trial judge summarily dismissed the malpractice claim and the Court of Appeals dodged the latter issue. The higher court judges ruled that since Taylor didn't present the CRNA's testimony at the hearing contesting the adequacy of her proof of causation, the only basis for appeal was the circumstantial argument that the fracture could not happen without negligence. It held that the evidence was too "speculative" to allow that claim to go forward and on that basis it upheld summary disposition.