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Hardison Attorneys Obtain Defense Verdict For CRNA

August 9th, 2016

Karen Koplon and Kay Anderson successfully defended a medical malpractice action against a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in which the Plaintiff alleged that spinal anesthesia was administered inappropriately causing a permanent nerve injury.  The Plaintiff alleged that he walked in the hospital for outpatient surgery and left the hospital in a wheelchair and has not walked since.  The defense put on proof that during the procedure the CRNA properly inserted the spinal needle at the L4-L5 level.  When the needle was put into the subarachnoid space, the Plaintiff had a paresthesia which occurs when the needle comes in contact with a nerve and it can feel like a tingling or burning.  This is unavoidable as this is a blind technique and the subarachnoid space is filled with nerve roots. When the paresthesia occurred, the patient complained of pain and jumped.  The CRNA pulled the needle back and the paresthesia resolved.  The CRNA then verified that she had free-flowing cerebral spinal fluid indicating that the needle was no longer near a nerve and that the needle was in the appropriate space to proceed with the injection of the anesthetic.  As the surgery proceeded, the urologist determined that the surgery would be more involved and that the level of anesthetia achieved would not be sufficient for the urologist to perform a scrotal hernia repair and removal of the patient’s right testicle. Therefore, the patient was placed under general anesthesia for the remainder of the surgery.  In order for the surgeon to perform the surgery it was necessary that the patient be placed in and out of the lithotomy position.   As a result, he suffered nerve compression and awoke from surgery with lower left extremity weakness resulting in a foot drop.  Plaintiff contended that his left leg weakness was due to the paresthesia encountered when the anesthetist inserted the spinal needle and more specifically how she responded when the paresthesia was encountered.   A neurologist and a CRNA provided expert testimony that the CRNA complied with the standard of care in insertion of the needle and the fact that a paresthesia of a nerve root was a known risk and a frequent occurrence due to the blind technique.  Further, the defense experts testified that type of paresthesia experienced by the patient would not cause permanent nerve damage.  The defense neurology expert testified that the lithotomy position more likely than not caused the injury, compounded by the Plaintiff’s refusal to attend physical therapy and follow the instructions of his physicians.  After a three day trial, the jury held for the defendant CRNA and found that she was not negligent.  

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