Expert Testimony Fails to Establish Causation in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice lawsuit, affirming the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims based on the plaintiff’s failure to establish that the defendants’ allegedly negligent actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Specifically, the court held that since the medical experts called by the plaintiff could not testify to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, their opinion failed to establish causation.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant was scheduled to have a robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP), which was to be performed by the defendants. On the day of the surgery, the plaintiff was positioned with his hands placed behind his back. During the surgery, none of the defendants repositioned the plaintiff’s body, and the surgery was completed after about 9.5 hours.

After the surgery, the plaintiff complained of pain in both of his shoulders and arms. He was later diagnosed with compartment syndrome in his right arm. A subsequent surgery was performed to relieve the pressure, but the plaintiff never regained the full use of his right arm.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors, claiming that their initial placement of his body and the subsequent failure to reposition him during the 9.5-hour surgery caused his injuries. In support of his case, the plaintiff presented two medical experts to help establish that it was the defendants’ actions that caused his injuries. Both experts explained that the initial positioning of the plaintiff’s body could have resulted in the development of compartment syndrome, but there also could have been other causes. The experts also testified that the defendants’ failure to reposition the plaintiff during the surgery probably but not necessarily worsened his injuries. Importantly, neither of the plaintiff’s two doctors was able to testify to their beliefs to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

The trial court determined that the medical experts’ testimony was insufficient to establish the necessary causation. The court explained that in order to establish causation, there must be more than a “medical possibility” that the defendant’s actions or inactions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Here, the collective testimony of both experts merely established that the defendant’s conduct “could have” caused the plaintiff’s injuries or “probably” made them worse. This, the court held, was insufficient to establish causation.

The plaintiff appealed the case, but the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s granting of summary judgment.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of medical malpractice in the Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C. areas, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience handling medical malpractice cases and have a large network of qualified medical experts to assist them in proving their clients’ cases. Call 410-654-3600 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with a dedicated personal injury advocate.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case Dismissed Due to Lack of Causation Evidence, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 22, 2017.

Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases Are Subject to Different Procedural Requirements, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 6, 2017.

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