Miss. Supreme Court to Hear Doctor’s Appeal of Malpractice Ruling

May 29, 2008

The Mississippi Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Meridian doctor and clinic, who were sued by a woman who complained that postoperative care after her hip replacement was substandard.

A Lauderdale County judge dismissed Harriet Cantrell’s lawsuit in 2005. The state Court of Appeals in 2007 reversed the trial judge and ordered a trial.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from Dr. James Green and Meridian Orthopaedic Clinic.

Cantrell sued Green and MOC over what she called substandard care after hip replacement surgery. She alleged she was left with a fixed abduction contracture, which is generally described as a condition in which the hip is in a “stuck-type position” and cannot move.

According to the court record, Cantrell had developed “bone death” in her right hip as a result of regular injections of the steroid prednisone, used to treat her blood disease.

Green replaced her hip on May 9, 2000. Cantrell received inpatient physical therapy for about six days until her discharge.

While at home, Cantrell said a physical therapist discovered that her right leg was 1-1/2 inches longer than her left leg. Cantrell went back to Green, who she claimed said that the discrepancy was acceptable and did not tell her the condition might be the result of surgery, according to court documents.

Cantrell said Green told her the condition would improve by walking. Cantrell consulted two more doctors, who agreed with Green.

After consulting with a lawyer, Cantrell was examined by another doctor, who found that the muscle running along the side of the hip was not properly stretched through post-surgery physical therapy and became fixed in a contracted position, according to the court record.

The trial court found that Cantrell presented no evidence that substandard postoperative care caused deformity. The trial court also ruled that since Cantrell’s own expert testified that if the deformity did not exist when Green last examined Cantrell, then Green’s treatment was not substandard.

The Appeals Court said there were issues that were in disagreement which should be settled by a jury.

The Appeals Court said whether the deformity existed when Cantrell visited Green after physical therapy “boils down to a ‘battle of the experts,’ through which the jury must determine the victor.”

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