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Medical malpractice - Orthopedic surgery negligence - Negligent repair of ACL - Alleged failure to achieve isometric position of the graft during surgery.

Orange County, California

In this medical malpractice matter, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in performing an ACL tear repair surgery. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant’s alleged negligence caused him permanent limitation in his range of motion and the need for a complete knee replacement. The defendant denied that there was any deviation from acceptable standards of care.

The male plaintiff sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while lifting a heavy object on his job. After treating for several months with another doctor, the plaintiff sought a second opinion from the defendant. The defendant is a board certified orthopedist. The defendant recommended a surgical repair of the injury. On January 17, ________, the plaintiff underwent a surgical repair of the ACL performed by the defendant. During the surgery, a complication occurred where there was a "blow out" of the posterior aspect of the knee during placement of a bioabsorable screw for fixation. The result was that the screw became lodged in the posterior compartment close to the nerves and ligaments. After the fixation was completed, intraoperative manipulations indicated good isometric position. The plaintiff underwent post operative physical therapy, but experienced great pain and limitation. The plaintiff was referred by his worker’s compensation to an ACL specialist. This surgeon performed a subsequent repair of the ACL in June ________. The second surgeon found tunnels for the ACL graft to have been malpositioned in his opinion. The plaintiff’s second surgeon maintained that the defendant had failed to obtain isometric position which resulted in the failure of the procedure.

The plaintiff has better range of motion and less pain, but has permanent limitations of use and will have to undergo a complete knee replacement in 20 to 30 years. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant, alleging that the defendant was negligent in failing to achieve isometric position of the graft which amounted to a deviation from acceptable standards of care. The plaintiff further alleged that he was never advised the loss of the screw which threatened the plaintiff’s vascular and nervous systems.

The defendant denied the allegations. The defendant maintained that all appropriate steps were taken to technically achieve isometric position during the surgery. The defendant relied upon the range of motion testing at the conclusion of surgery to substantiate his position. The defendant further argued that the "blow out" which occurred and resulted in the loss of the screw was a complication of the surgery and the screw presented no danger and would be absorbed by the body.

At the conclusion of the eight day trial, the jury deliberated for one day and returned its verdict in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff.

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