Case details

Defense: Pain syndrome a known complication of surgery





Result type

Not present

carpal tunnel syndrome, neurological, reflex sympathetic, wrist
On April 21, 2008, plaintiff Lynette Gatlin, 39, a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, underwent carpal tunnel release surgery at Kaiser West Los Angeles to treat her carpal tunnel syndrome that had developed as a result of her work. She claimed that, post-operatively, she developed complex regional pain syndrome, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or causalgia, a chronic pain condition. She claimed that as a result, she lost the use of her right, dominant hand. Gatlin sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals Inc., Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Southern California Permanente Medical Group. She alleged that the defendants failed to properly perform a pre-operation evaluation and failed to properly perform the surgery. She further alleged that these failures constituted medical malpractice. The matter proceeded to arbitration. Gatlin’s counsel contended that the carpal tunnel release surgery Gatlin underwent was contraindicated due to the presence of reflex sympathetic dystrophy, pre-operatively. Counsel also contended that the surgery was incomplete and failed to adequately release the carpal tunnel. Thus, counsel asserted that the negligent decompression of the median nerve resulted in a nerve injury during surgery. Defense counsel contended that the carpal tunnel release surgery was indicated and appropriate. Counsel further contended that a complete release of the carpal tunnel was achieved, and that Gatlin developed a known complication, complex regional pain syndrome, which was timely diagnosed and treated., Following the carpal tunnel release surgery, Gatlin developed complex regional pain syndrome. She claimed the injury was due to a nerve injury, as a result of a negligent decompression of the median nerve, during surgery that ultimately resulted in the loss of use of her right, dominant hand. Gatlin claimed she continues to suffer from uncontrollable pain, for which she is on a high dose of narcotics after nerve injections failed to relieve her pain. In addition, she claimed that the chronic pain prevents her from being able to work. Thus, Gatlin claimed $300,000 in damages for her future medical care and loss of earnings. She further sought recovery of $250,000 in damages for her past and future pain and suffering.
Office of the Independent Administrator, CA

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