It was just fun and games. He was a bodybuilder.
He was horsing around with his friend. He picked his friend up and felt his shoulder pop.
It was painful. Extremely painful. He had dislocated his shoulder.
He asked his friend to take him to the closest emergency room.
In the emergency room, the doctors confirmed it was dislocated and would need to be reinserted.
They tried once. They tried twice. They tried multiple times. They couldn't do it.
They called more doctors. They pulled. They twisted. They turned his arm and shoulder. They couldn't do it.
They gave him painkillers. They gave him some light anesthesia. Finally, they were able to get the shoulder back into its' socket.
But there was a problem...a little one.
Since they had manipulated his arm so much and given him lots of painkillers and light anesthesia, they felt it best to keep him overnight and watch him. That's what they did.
During the night, the patient complained to the duty nurse about tingling and numbness in the fingers of his hand. On the same side where his shoulder had been dislocated. An hour later, the patient again complained of pain and tingling and numbness in his arm. The same side where his shoulder was dislocated.
The nurse dutifully wrote down these complaints in the patient's chart and told the patient that a doctor would be in to see him in the morning.
She didn't think this was important.
She didn't think this required immediate attention.
She didn't understand the significance of those patient complaints.
That was the disconnect that caused this man to lose the entire use of his arm.
Hospital staff violates basic medical protocol...
This patient complained of neurological problems.
These were symptoms of a neurological issue stemming from his shoulder manipulation.
The nurse failed to notify a resident, a house staff doctor or an orthopedist about these findings.
She failed to recognize the signficance of the patient's complaints until...
Until it was too late.
By late morning, when the staff were making rounds, the patient was now having significant pain in his arm, swelling and was unable to feel his fingers. A CAT scan was immediately ordered. It showed that there was a collection of fluid in his axilla (the armpit area) that appeared to be compressing a major group of nerves.
This patient needed emergency surgery.
His entire armpit area down to his waist was cut open in an attempt to release the fluid buildup from compressing the nerves controlling his arm and shoulder.
The doctors identified the location where the fluid had built up and confirmed the nerves controlling his arm and shoulder had been compressed throughout the night. They hoped for the best and hoped that the nerves had not been totally cut off. Their prayers went unanswered.
After the patient awoke, further testing revealed the worst.
The nerve that supplies the arm and shoulder had been killed off. Permanently. There was no hope for improvement.
That meant that over time, this man's arm would wither away from atrophy; lack of use. He couldn't use his arm anymore. Not his hand. Not his arm. Not even his shoulder.
This man was a former bodybuilder. He was buff. His muscles were massive. The doctors informed him that over time, since the nerve was killed off, his arm would literally wither away and become only a fraction of the size of his good arm.
He saw specialists.
He saw subspecialists.
He saw neurologists.
He saw nerve transposition experts.
He agreed to have surgery to try and take nerves from another part of his body and attach it to the damaged nerves in his axilla. That meant more surgery. More scarring. No guarantees.
That was unsuccessful.
After we started a lawsuit against the hospital and nurse who delayed in recognizing the nerve injury, we learned from our medical experts that this patient had a limited window of opportunity in which to have his complaints recognized and treated. He still would have required emergency surgery.
However, had the surgery taken place hours earlier, there would have been no permanent damage. The nerve would never have been killed off. He never would have lost the use of his arm.
All our experts agreed.
Ultimately, the defense agreed with this argument as well.
You would think that with such a clear cut example of violations from the standards of basic medical care at a prominent hospital here in the metropolitan NY area that the defense would have wanted to settle this case early.
In fact, it wasn't until after all pretrial questioning of the hospital staff had taken place did they enter into settlement negotiations.
What do you think a former bodybuilder's arm is worth in Brooklyn?
Well, in this particular case, where there was no real lost earnings, we had only pain and suffering.
What do you think a jury would have given this man to compensate him for a withered and useless arm for the rest of his life?
It turns out that the defense felt the loss of his arm, this remaining vestige of what was once a useful part of this man's body, was ultimately worth one million dollars...
All because a hospital nurse failed to recognize the signs and symptoms of a neurological emergency.
Let me ask you a question...
If someone offered you one million dollars in exchage for the loss of use of your arm forever, would you take it?
I thought not.
To learn more about this bodybuilder and how he lost the use of his arm, I invite you to watch the video below...