The Turkewitz Law Firm
New York Personal Injury Attorney ♦ Medical Malpractice ♦ Trial Lawyer
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New York, NY 10017
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As Published In
Medical Malpractice — Damage To Facial Nerve During Middle Ear Surgery —Facial Palsy And Deformity
Settlement: Raul Xxxxx, Jr. v. Mt. Sinai Medical Center XXXXX / 89
Date of Settlement 2/24/93
Venue: Bronx Supreme Court
Plaintiff Attorney: Eric M. Turkewitz for Raymond B. Schwartzberg, Manhattan
This action settled during jury deliberations for $300,000. Plaintiff was 15 years old when he underwent exploratory middle ear surgery for a lifelong hearing loss in his left ear on 8/30/83 at Defendant Hospital. Plaintiff claimed that after Defendant's surgeon lifted aside the eardrum, he found that a congenital deformity of the stapes was the cause of the hearing problem. Plaintiff claimed that in an attempt to insert a prosthetic device into the ear to replace the stapes, the surgeon scraped a piece of tissue in the operative field. Plaintiff contended that the tissue was actually a facial nerve that was outside of its normal course.
Plaintiff claimed that there was a connection between a congenital defect in the stapes and an irregular facial nerve. He also contended that the surgeon could not identify where the facial nerve was when he scraped the tissue, and that it was negligent to go ahead with the surgery without properly visualizing the facial nerve.
Plaintiff contended that when he came out of anesthesia he had facial palsy, an obvious sign that the nerve was damaged or removed. He underwent decompression surgery the next day to prevent additional nerve damage. The facial palsy continued for 8-10 months after the surgery, and then Plaintiff's normal facial tone returned. He still has partial paralysis and deformity.
Defendant's surgeon conceded that the facial nerve is an important landmark in the middle ear, but he contended that he thought he knew where the nerve was and that he used medical judgment in proceeding with the surgery. He also contended that the tissue that he scraped did not look like the facial nerve. The pathology report indicated that the tissue was both a fibrous tissue and a piece of the nerve.
Injuries: Plaintiff has a facial paralysis with an obvious deformity when he smiles. He also claimed that although he was able to hear in his left ear in the 1 day between the two surgeries, the decompression surgery required the removal of the original prosthetic device and the insertion of a new one, and Plaintiff claimed that his hearing has not improved from his original condition. He also claimed that he lost a substantial possibility of hearing improvement because of the second surgery. Defendant Experts: Dr. Jerome Block, neurologist, Manhattan; Dr. Alvin Katz, otolaryngologist, Manhattan.