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Medical Malpractice/Compartment syndrom for forearm 6 year old girl


Before surgery deformed
Before surgery deforme  

Hello Mr.Darfman,

I see that you have very good experience. Hope you can provide good advice for us too.  My daughter is 6 year old. She fell of a slide in september 2014. She broke her elbow left arm completely disformed. She says that she stood on side of slide and tried to catch a leaf jumped and slipped and hit her left hand on the slide and dragged it until she fell down to land.(she explained this all later after all the surgeries and is our assumption bcos its a bad fall). We took her to emergency and they treated her with pain Killer and wrapped it with cloth bandage. They could barely hear her pulse.(Checked many times) and send her to Main hospital and told us as it is related to nerves and arteries we are sending tou there. We went in Ambulance and reached by 7 PM. Many time they checked the pulse. We forced  them to get surgery done that day. They told this can wait until next morning and she was operated around 11 PM. They put a tight cast upto her fingers. They didn't even told us to move her fingers and check for tingling or pain. She was in pain and nurses gave her pain killers. Doctor who did surgery came at 6 PM and checked her. she was moving fingers little bit. Even that night she was crying and nurses gave pain killers and she was sleeping. Next Morning doctor came at 7 Am and checked her and she is still in lot of pain. When he saw her fingers not moving he cut her cast and loosened it and left. They came after 1 hour and took her for fasciotomy and got nerve specialists, artery specialists to check her hand. My daughter has gone through 5 surgeries until now.

elbow surgery with pins
Skin grapht
wound closure 1
wound closure 2

She has been in therapy until now. lot of pain and very uncomfortable splints all throught the night. With lot of burden many times she says " i should not have jumped from slide, its my mistake". I feel that statement tells us how painful process she has been going through. Recent EMG says her median nerve is damged extensively, they could't get any response. Her radial nerve is partially damaged. Ulnar is preserved. Mri scan says she has muscle damage. DOnt know how much? she has currently stage 1 to 2 volkmanns contracture and Elbow cntracture. she cannot bend her elbow. Her wrist is deformed. She over uses right hand which is making her body posture change. She is going for another surgery left flexor pronator slide,neurolysis median nerve forearm/wrist.Neurolysis-ulnar nerve elbow/forearm, possible elbow capsulotomy.

Present condition: She can move her fingers. She cannot lift her wrist. She cannot make tight fist. she cannot bend her elbow more than 90 degrees(cannot reach her face or ears). Neurologist said her left hand can never be the same and will be thinner than right hand for life. She is right handed.

Please advise her recovery chances and if this is medical malpractice case.

Thank you very much.

I am very sorry to hear this story regarding your daughter.  A real "parents nightmare".  Firstly, you must understand that I am a lawyer, not an orthopedic surgeon or neuorologist.  I am not trained in medicine and therefore I have no idea what her "recovery chances" would be.  Hopefully, they are good.  

Is this a malpractice case?  Well, if she doesn't make a full recovery and will have to live with a less than fully functional hand and arm, the damages are certainly high enough to interest a lawfirm in taking the case.  But nobody, even a doctor, could say, based on what you have written, whether she was damaged and injured by negligent medical care.  A complete and detailed review of the records and history by a qualified doctor would be necessary to determine whether her outcome would be much much better BUT FOR negligent medical care that she received.\

The only thing that stands out to me is the question of whether the casting at the hospital was not appropriate. If proper medical procedure dictates that a cast NOT BE APPLIED in this situation due to risk of causing Compartment Syndrome in a small child and the CS is the direct cause of a lifelong deformity, then by all means you may have a malpractice case.

In other words, imagine a medical textbook on the proper way to handle your daughter's case.  If that books says something such as "a hard cast should not be applied" and the docs at the hospital applied the case anyhow, without good reason or as a result of their REASONABLE MEDICAL JUDGMENT, and this was the cause of disabilities and unnecessary pain and suffering and surgeries, then yes, you might have a case.   However, if the injury was so severe that her current and future problems were likely to result even with proper medical care, then of course there is no malpractice case.  Basically, you need to find a big lawfirm interested enough in the case to advance the cost of hiring medical experts to review the case and if those experts say that she would have had a much better outcome but for negligent care at the hospital (casting or some other mistake they made there), then the lawfirm might be interested in proceeding.  Such a case would cost a large amount of money and hundreds of hours of time to the lawfirm so they won't take it unless the negligent is really clear...........such that for instance, 8 out of 10 doctors would look at the history and say something like "my God, what were that little girl's doctors thinking.  Obviously they should not have ......... or obviously they should have............... and this breach of the STANDARD OF CARE was the cause of much damage to the child".

If you are able, you should do this:  Contact the hospital and every other medical facility where she was treated.  Order the complete medical charts.  There will be some modest cost but just pay it.  This way, when you contact  lawfirms and say you have the charts, they will invite you in most likely.  If they have to take the time and cost to get the records before they have any clue if there is a viable case, they might not be as willing.  Research online for a medical malpractice lawfirm in a big city near you.  Good luck to you and I hope for a good recovery for your little girl.

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Glenn A. Dorfman


Thirty-four years experience in personal injury, medical malpractice and medical product liability law. Qualified to answer all questions regarding injuries and the law, except for worker`s compensation. Also wide experience in medical product defect cases ie current litigation regarding the Johnson&Johnson (DePuy)defective hip implant cases and Mirena IUD issues


Thirty-four years experience handling cases involving auto accidents, trips and fall, fires, dog bite,medical malpractice and defective medical product cases with particular emphasis in 2012 and beyond with the DePuy ASR (Johnson&Johnson) defective hip implant cases. Twenty-five years of experience with defective IUD issues as well

Jurisdoctor Degree 1976 and Member in good standing with CA State Bar Assoc. since 1976

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