Error in Facial Surgery / Facial Nerve Damage

Filed under Surgical Errors

The Boggs Case

Mr. Boggs was a 40 year old husband, father of two young children and a highly skilled journeyman machinist by trade. He had a history of seasonal sinus infections that had been medically managed for several years. He had an unusually painful autumn allergy season and contacted his ear, nose and throat (ENT) for an appointment. His ENT was unavailable, so a family member referred him to her ENT. The new ENT performed an evaluation, identified a probable right-sided sinus infection and ordered two (2) brief courses of antibiotics without success. The ENT ordered a CT scan to visualize the sinuses and insure there was no worrying pathology in the right sinus. The radiologist misread the CT Scan and reported a non-cancerous cyst in the right sinus that on film was really on the left. The ENT thought his patient had a cyst on the right and significant sinus pain on the right so he scheduled a Caldwell-Luc surgery to clean out the right sinus. The ENT discovered the CT error the morning of the surgery, but he failed to tell the patient that the right sinus surgery was no longer justified because the left sinus cyst was not causing any problem. The ENT operated on the left sinus without full consent of the patient and cut a facial nerve.

The patient suffered immediate, constant, severe and disabling facial pain treatable only by high doses of narcotics. In addition to constant facial pain, he suffers very frequent lightning-bolts of pain that not even narcotics can treat. The nerve injury could not be repaired with surgery and the patient will never be able to work again as a machinist due to the effects of narcotic medications, cannot be meaningfully employed due to the frequent bouts of severe pain and has difficulty driving, participating in family events or enjoying daily life with his wife and young children.

Suit was filed in Allegheny County against the radiologist for misreporting the CT Scan and against the ENT for operating on the left sinus without consent, operating on a sinus that did not need surgery at all, using the antiquated Caldwell-Luc technique that had a high-risk of hitting a nerve and hitting the nerve. The radiologist admitted his error during trial.

The case was tried for two (2) weeks before a jury. The plaintiff sought damages for lost wages, substantial future medical expenses that were not covered by insurance and pain and suffering. After two days of deliberation, the jury awarded $1,979,889.00 in favor of Plaintiff and against the ENT only. Interest and a partial settlement prior to trial raised the total recovery to approximately $2.1 million.

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Publisher: Harry S. Cohen and Associates, P.C.