7-Figure Settlement: Surgeons Damage Blood Vessels During Total Knee Replacement

Benjamin Gideon, Esq., Berman & Simmons, Lewiston, Maine

A patient lost his leg after a surgeon severed his popliteal vein and damaged the artery during a Total Knee Replacement (TKR). Despite unusually excessive amounts of bleeding, the surgeons failed to recognize what they had done and sutured up the knee without assessing the popliteal blood vessels. The patient’s condition rapidly devolved.

Surgeon Severs Blood Vessels During Total Knee Replacement

After two days, the patient began displaying symptoms of acute limb ischemia. A nurse reported her concern to the surgeon’s assistant. Two days later, the surgeon who performed the TKR diagnosed the patient’s condition as “compartment syndrome.” He then performed a fasciotomy. When the patient did not regain an adequate pulse, the patient was transferred to a vascular service at a nearby medical center.

The Vascular Surgeon performed an emergent vascular surgery and discovered that the blood vessels had been damaged. Massive popliteal blood clots had formed inside the blood vessels and choked off blood to the patient’s lower leg. The patient would undergo 11 more procedures to restore blood flow over the next two months, but it was too late. His leg became increasingly necrotic and he would eventually undergo an amputation.

Benjamin Gideon, Esq., needed to show how surgeons botched the TKR surgery and failed to appropriately assess the patient’s damaged neurovascular status. But in order to convey these themes effectively, he needed visuals that would help simplify and anchor the most complex aspects of his case. We delivered a set of animations that would achieve the following visual objectives.

  • Establish how blood normally flows through the popliteal blood vessels to and from the leg.
  • Show the surgical mechanism of injury that damaged these popliteal blood vessels.
  • Demonstrate how this injury disrupted normal blood flow, destroyed lower leg tissue, and ultimately resulted in an amputation.

Exhibit A: Establishing the Importance of Popliteal Blood Vessels

This first animation helped Mr. Gideon demonstrate the normal anatomy of blood circulation from the heart to the lower extremities. More importantly, it established the importance of the Popliteal blood vessels in transporting blood to and from the lower leg.

Exhibit A: Normal Blood Flow to Leg

Oxygenated blood flows from the heart through the femoral and popliteal arteries to the lower leg. It then travels back through the popliteal and femoral veins to be reoxygenated in the heart. The next exhibit demonstrates how this circulatory system was destroyed.

Exhibit B: Showing How Popliteal Blood Vessels Were Damaged

Once we had established the importance of the popliteal blood vessels, the next animation demonstrated how this vital vascular anatomy was disrupted during surgery. Surgeons failed to assess the blood vessels despite an unusually excessive amount of blood that required surgeons to request numerous sponges to soak up.

Exhibit B: Mechanism of Injury

That amount of bleeding should have been a clear indicator of vascular damage, which could have been easily addressed. Instead, surgeons sutured the patient up with an injury that would devolve into an amputation.

Exhibit C: Demonstrating How Damages Progressed

After establishing the importance of the Popliteal blood vessels and how they were damaged, the final animation demonstrated how this vascular injury progressed into an above-the-knee amputation. Once the Popliteal artery and vein were cut, clots began to form and choke off blood flow to the lower leg.

Exhibit C: Progression of Damages

Doctors failed to recognize and respond to symptoms of limb ischemia for days, and even after being alerted, they dragged their feet on addressing the issue. After they transferred the patient to a Vascular Medical Center, the new surgeon discovered the aftermath of gross medical negligence.

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