Judgment against surgeon upheld where carpal ligament not severed
The Court of Appeals recently affirmed a judgment in favor of Ann Brabbs arising out of carpal tunnel surgery. Brabbs, a home care nurse, alleged that following her carpal tunnel release, she continued to have pain and dysfunction which was actually more severe than it had been prior to surgery. She presented the testimony of an orthopaedic surgeon who criticized the original surgeon for failing to sever the carpal ligament and for injuring the median nerve.
The insurer sought to overturn the verdict, claiming that the subsequent doctor should not have been allowed to testify because he performed carpal tunnel surgery by a different procedure and not by the "mini-open procedure" used by the original, defendant surgeon. The Court of Appeals upheld the Plaintiff's verdict and her use of a surgeon who was critical of the "mini-open procedure". Even though the testifier was critical of the latter procedure and did not use it, he was trained in the procedure and his criticism of the breach of the standard of care was based upon the defendant surgeon's surgical failure, rather than his choice of technique: regardless of the surgical technique utilized, it was legitimate to base the Plaintiff's claim on the failure to completely sever and "release" the carpal ligament and to fail to identify and avoid injuring the median nerve.