A 5 year old boy fell while playing on monkey bars at a park in New York City. He was brought to the local emergency room by his parents and diagnosed with a fractured wrist.
The defendant doctor performed surgery that night. His bone was set with pins to keep it in place. A cast was applied and the child was discharged home late that evening.
In the early morning hours of the next day, his parents returned to the same emergency room with their child, as he was complaining of worsening pain that was not being controlled by his pain medication. He was examined by the hospital staff doctors and residents, and the attending surgeon was called. An x-ray was negative for any additional injury and narcotic pain medication was ordered. The cast was never removed or opened to determine if it was too tight, or to examine the child’s hand and wrist. Despite the fact that the child’s fingers were swollen, which is consistent with the early signs of compartment syndrome, the surgeon and emergency room medical staff once again discharged him home, sighting that the narcotic pain medication they administered in the ER relieved his pain.
On the following day the child was once again brought to the emergency room with complaints of increased pain and swelling as well as color changes in his fingers. He was diagnosed with compartment syndrome-- a condition that occurs when there is tight constriction of a body part, that, if left untreated, can result in a lack of circulation, causing the death of tissue, muscle and nerves in the area.
As a result of the doctor's and hospital's departures from good and accepted medical care in failing to diagnose the developing compartment syndrome during the emergency presentation on the previous day, when the child's cast was finally removed it was discovered that his arm had been deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time. In an attempt to correct the damage caused by this breach of the standard of care, the child underwent multiple corrective surgeries at a subsequent hospital, and, has suffered deformity and significant loss of use of his arm.
After a hard-fought battle, the case was settled for 3.5 million dollars.