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$100,000 Settlement for Medical Malpractice - Second Surgery Required After Removal of Wrong Portion of Rib

The plaintiff, an 81-year-old male, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 1997. A bone scan was performed and showed an area of abnormal uptake. The urologist was concerned that the finding could represent bone metastases. He referred the plaintiff to a surgeon for bone biopsy.

The plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for the procedure. Because the lesion could not be seen on the bone, the surgeon sought the assistance of a radiologist for pre-operative marking. Using fluoroscopy, the surgeon and the radiologist marked the area where the lesion was thought to be on the posterior ninth rib with a dye known as Methylene Blue.

Following the marking, the surgeon took the plaintiff to the operating room for the surgical procedure. He made an incision and visualized a blue rib segment, which he removed. A post-operative X-ray revealed that a segment of the eighth rib rather than a segment of the ninth rib had been removed. A second surgery was required to remove the appropriate rib segment. The defendant surgeon reinforced the chest wall by suturing polypropylene mesh in a double layer between the seventh and 10th ribs.

The plaintiff experienced pain and difficulty lifting following the procedures. The plaintiff's expert testified that the pain was the result of mesh having come in contact with nerve fibers.

The defendant's expert testified that mesh is commonly used as a reinforcing material, and there was no evidence that the mesh had caused any problems. He further testified that pain following thoracic surgery is not uncommon, and some individuals experience it on a long-term basis. Furthermore, it was argued, there was no evidence that the pain was caused from the secondary surgery as opposed to the first.

The case settled during trial.

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