Frederick A. Sewards represented an orthopedic surgeon who had performed
bilateral total knee replacement surgeries on a patient. The first surgery on the right knee went
without incidence. The second surgery on
the left knee unfortunately resulted in a laceration of the popliteal artery
which is the main blood vessel supplying blood to the structures below the
knee. Upon recognition of the injury,
vascular surgery was quickly consulted, and the popliteal artery was repaired
endovascularly by placing a graft through the lacerated section.
the patient developed loss of function and sensation in her foot and
ankle. Additionally, before the injury
to the popliteal artery was identified, the patient developed high pressures in
her left calf compartments resulting in necrosis of muscle. Surgical intervention unfortunately resulted
in repeated infections.
it was decided by the medical providers and the family that the best option was
to proceed with an above-knee amputation due to the lack of function in the
lower extremity and the continued danger from ongoing infections.
sought damages in excess of $2 million at trial.
expert witness in orthopedic surgery from Stuart, Florida rendered the opinion
that any injury to the popliteal artery is always the result of
negligence. The defense orthopedic
surgery expert witness from Indiana University opined that injuries to the
popliteal artery are a known risk and complication of the procedure. Although rare, they can happen. In fact, the very same injury had occurred
during a procedure performed by the defense expert witness from Indiana
Defendant also presented a nationally-known expert in adult knee reconstruction
surgery who had authored numerous textbooks and dozens of peer reviewed
articles on the subject. This orthopedic
surgeon from the University of Pennsylvania opined that injury to the popliteal
artery is rare but known and accepted as a complication of the procedure and
had occurred with several of his colleagues.
presented expert witnesses in life care planning and economics to demonstrate
future medical and home health needs for the patient who, at the time of
surgery, was 80 years old.
While sympathy was a very significant factor in the case, the jury concluded that the doctor had not deviated from the standard of care and found in favor of the Defendant orthopedic surgeon.