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Virginia Jury Sides With Surgeon In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Posted on Mar 27, 2011
A doctor was found to have given reasonable care to a patient who became paralyzed and then died following a shoulder surgery. During the Virginia wrongful death trial, the jury sided with the doctor and the hospital, saying that they did not believe that a wrong diagnosis was made or that the surgeon was negligent in his duties.

In 2003, 49-year-old Barry Saver of Blacksburg, Virginia, went to Doctor B. Joseph Prud'homme complaining of shoulder pain and upper back pain. After conducting an MRI on the man’s shoulder, Dr. Prud’homme recommended surgery and diagnosed osteoporosis and tendonitis. After the surgery, however, Saver was a quadriplegic, unable to move his arms or legs and unable to breathe without assistance. The doctor thought at first that this was a complication of anesthesia, but soon discovered that the man had a herniated disk in his spine causing permanent nerve damage. The man went onto life support, but died after a month.

During the VA wrongful death trial, the defense argued that the herniated disk was caused by the stress of the surgery and that the doctor could not have prevented the unexpected tragedy that took place. The prosecution argued that the herniated disk was the original medical problem, and that the doctor should have initially ordered an MRI for the patient’s entire spine instead of his shoulder.

The jury decided that the doctor, who is now practicing medicine in West Virginia provided adequate care despite the death of the patient.