The Eisen Law Firm - Attorneys Focusing Exclusively On Medical Malpractice
3601 Green Rd, Suite 308
Cleveland OH 44122
Call For A Free Consultation

$2,000,000 Medical Error Caused Amputation of Child’s Fingers

The Medical Malpractice Case Facts

C.J. was two and a half months old when he went to the Emergency Department at a Cleveland-area hospital. He was diagnosed with a small bowel obstruction and admitted for surgery. Following surgery, C.J. was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (“PICU”).

Within a few hours of C.J.’s arrival in the PICU, a pediatric intensivist placed an arterial line in C.J.’s axillary artery (near his armpit). The placement of that line resulted in the formation of a blood clot around the catheter, and this clot traveled to C.J.’s right hand and fingers. C.J.’s mom noticed that his fingers were changing colors. The hospital nurses discounted her observations. Once the nurses discovered that C.J.’s mom was correct – that there really was something wrong – C.J. was transferred to another hospital for rescue surgery. The hope was that a surgeon could open up the blocked blood vessels and restore blood to the hand in time to save the damaged tissues. Unfortunately, however, the surgery was unsuccessful, and C.J. was forced to undergo amputations of several fingers and the thumb of his right hand.

Building Our Cleveland Medical Negligence Case

C.J.’s parents hired The Eisen Law Firm to represent them in their Medical Malpractice case. We filed suit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on behalf of C.J.’s parents and C.J. against the hospital and various physicians involved in C.J.’s care and treatment.

After the completion of extensive written discovery and approximately a dozen depositions, the parties exchanged expert witness reports.

Based upon the documented medical records, the hospital policies and other written materials obtained in discovery, and the extensive deposition testimony of physicians and nurses, the Eisen Law Firm retained experts in the following fields: (2) Neonatology; (2) Neonatal Nursing; (3) Vascular Surgery; (4) Prosthetics; (5) Plastic Surgery; (6) Pediatric Hand Surgery; (7) Vocational Rehabilitation; and (8) Economics.

The Eisen Law Firm’s experts were critical of the defendant physician and of the nursing staff at the hospital where the axillary line was placed. The crux of the case against the doctor was that C.J. did not need an arterial line of any kind, let alone an axillary arterial line, which is known to be more dangerous than other kinds of arterial lines. The case against the hospital focused on the allegation that the nursing staff did not properly monitor C.J.’s extremities for potential signs or symptoms of compromised blood flow once the line was placed.

The defendants submitted expert reports from three pediatric intensivists, a pediatric intensive care nurse, an expert in pediatric hand surgery, and a pediatric rehabilitation specialist. The defense experts took the position that C.J. was very ill when he was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and that an arterial line was necessary in order to monitor his hemodynamic status (the flow of blood within the organs and tissues of the body) appropriately and to provide access for frequent blood draws. In addition, the defense experts claimed that the nursing care was within the standard of care, and that nothing could have been done to prevent C.J.’s injury. Finally, the defense argued that because C.J. was so young at the time of the injury, he would be able to adjust to the absence of his fingers quite well. In fact, one defense expert testified that C.J. was actually better off from an economic standpoint because of his injury, as the injury likely would steer C.J. away from “blue collar” jobs and into “white collar” jobs. How lucky for him.

Medical Error Case: Mediation and Settlement

Following the depositions of all of The Eisen Law Firm’s experts and several of the defense experts, the parties met for a day-long mediation session. By day’s end, very little progress had been made. A few days after the failed mediation, the parties began to discuss settlement again. The defense position on settlement was driven largely by the fact that it felt it had a very good proximate causation defense, and by the argument that Ohio law limits the amount of pain and suffering damages that can be awarded in a medical negligence case. Given that C.J.’s economic losses were only approximately $569,000, the defense maintained that its maximum exposure was in the area of $1 million.

The defendant doctor’s employer, which was a physician practice group and not the hospital, took the position that the doctor was less culpable than nurses at the hospital, as it was indisputable that at the time the doctor left the hospital, C.J. was doing well, with no signs of any problems relating to his arterial line.

Ultimately, the parties agreed to a settlement of $2 million, paid equally by the physician’s employer and the hospital.

Given the obstacles presented by the medical issues in this case and the risks associated with proceeding to trial, C.J.’s parents decided to settle the case rather than take it to trial. After the settlement was reached, The Eisen Law Firm continued its work on the case. The Eisen Law Firm assisted C.J.’s parents in setting up a structured settlement for some of the funds, as well as a Special Needs Trust, ensuring that C.J. would have needed funds for the rest of his life.