Wrong Site Surgery

$450,000 settlement after trial and a finding of punitive damages for a 40 year old professional dancer and choreographer when the orthopedist operated on the wrong knee.

This 40 year old dancer had a torn meniscus in his right knee which was causing him pain and restricting his movements. He was referred to a well known orthopedic surgeon in New York City who recommended surgery. On the day of surgery, the doctor met the patient in the anteroom of the operating suite and wrote an “X” on his right knee with a magic marker. Ten minutes later the orthopedist operated on the patient’s left knee and was surprised not to find a torn meniscus, so he removed some lining tissue and ended the procedure. It wasn’t until the patient woke up in the recovery room and the nurse said your left knee is good as new, that the patient complained there was nothing wrong with my left knee, it was my right knee that he was supposed to operate on!

At the trial the operating room nurses testified that the doctor rushed them to prepare the patient and was so impatient that he prepped the patient’s knee himself with the tourniquet and betadyne. The doctor testified that when he got to the OR the nurses had already set up the left knee for surgery so he just went ahead an operated on the left knee.

The jury returned a verdict holding the doctor 60% liable and the hospital staff 40% liable and found the plaintiff entitled to punitive damages for the doctor’s wanton disregard for “right side” surgery protocols.