A Colorado federal jury awarded $6.3M to the former coach of the New Zealand Olympic Snowboard Team over allegations of medical malpractice. Jody Blatchley’s lawsuit named six doctors, a hospital and an orthopedic group declaring that the treatment he received left him with serious and permanent injuries. The complaint in the Colorado District Court case Blatchley et al v. Cunningham et al (1:2015cv00460) was filed March 4, 2015, and describes the care he received following a snowboarding accident at Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado.
Blatchley was taken initially to St. Anthony Keystone Medical Clinic and then transported to the Emergency Department at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center. A CT image showed a complex left comminuted proximal tibia fracture, left cuboid fracture, comminuted depressed intra-articular right calcaneus fracture and a negative finding for his right knee. On March 5, 2013, Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Cain performed left tibia plateau repair surgery. On March 7, he underwent right calcaneus fixation. On March 8, defendant noted severe pain in the lower left extremity and had lost the ability to wiggle his toes and had signs of compartment syndrome.
He returned to the operating room on March 13, March 16, and March 20, April 8 and was discharged April 15. WebMD describes how serious compartment syndrome is.
Groups of organs or muscles are organized into areas called compartments. Strong webs of connective tissue called fascia form the walls of these compartments.
After an injury, blood or edema (fluid resulting from inflammation or injury) may accumulate in the compartment. The tough walls of fascia cannot easily expand, and compartment pressure rises, preventing adequate blood flow to tissues inside the compartment. Severe tissue damage can result, with loss of body function or even death.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Cunningham is charged with negligence in the diagnosis, monitoring and care of Blatchley. The medical standard of care was allegedly not met when the physician did not recognize symptoms of compartment syndrome. Blatchley sued for damages including past and future medical expenses, loss of past and future income, permanent physical impairment, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Litigation in orthopedic surgery often stems from poor surgical outcomes resulting in loss of function. This may occur as a result of surgical technique, infection, or other complicating factors. Delayed treatment of compartment syndrome is another area of risk for practicing orthopedists. Litigation in this field requires an orthopedic surgery expert witness who is preeminent in their medical field. ELITE Medical Experts are leading professors from major U.S. academic medical centers. Contact ELITE to be connected with an expert hand-vetted for the specific needs of your case.