As far as medical procedures go, caring for skin complaints is a fairly run-of-the-mill operation. Few go in to have a cyst or boil removed thinking that they will suffer lasting injuries. But as one Pennsylvania man's experience shows, even common operations have risks, and a simple surgical mistake can lead to a lifetime of suffering.
The man, a Hatboro resident, had a cyst on his neck. He visited his local family doctor for a consultation about removing the cyst, and was told that it was a quick, simple in-office procedure. The doctor cut and drained the cyst, removing it from the patient's neck.
The operation appeared to be a success, until a few days later when the man noticed a sudden weakness in his left arm. Soon, he was unable to move his arm through its full range of motion, and he had difficulty picking things up.
He visited another doctor, and later a neurosurgeon, who determined that the cyst removal operation had severed the man's spinal accessory nerve, a major nerve that runs between the spinal cord and the arm. Doctors determined that the damage was permanent.
The man sued his doctor for medical malpractice, stating that due to the injuries he sustained during the operation, he was no longer able to follow his trade as a master electrician and plumber. At the trial, physicians determined that the cut made into the man's neck was too deep for a normal cyst removal, and that the family doctor had offered care that "was below commonly accepted standards."
As a result, the 29-year-old man was awarded a whopping $4 million verdict, an amount intended to compensate him for his pain and suffering, as well as the wages and earnings he will lose as a result of the injury.
Source: Philly Burbs, "Montco jury awards Hatboro man $4M for nerve damage" Margaret Gibbons, Aug. 27, 2013