MYRTLE BEACH — An Horry County jury has awarded what is expected to be one of the state’s largest judgments this year in a medical malpractice lawsuit against an orthopedic surgeon whose actions left his patient a paraplegic, court records show.
Randy Green and his wife were awarded a combined $2.85 million after a jury determined that Myrtle Beach surgeon Wayne Bauerle negligently ordered Green to be taken from a hospital’s pre-operative holding area for a CAT scan, even though Green’s vital signs were unstable at the time.
The Greens also entered into a separate settlement with Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, where the malpractice occurred. That settlement is confidential.
Green – who suffered severe injuries from an April 17, 2004, automobile accident, including severed arteries in his forearm – was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center after the wreck for surgery to stop the bleeding in his arm. While Green was being prepared for surgery, Bauerle ordered a CAT scan of the patient’s knee, which also was injured in the accident. The 30-minute delay caused by the CAT scan led Green to suffer cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest, according to testimony at the trial. Although Green was resuscitated by an emergency room doctor and an anesthesiologist, the delay led to the death of a portion of Green’s spinal cord and his permanent paralysis from just above the waist down.
Grady Query of Charleston, one of the lawyers representing the Greens, said his client’s blood pressure at the time he was sent for the CAT scan was 72 over 56, considered dangerously low by experts who testified at the trial.
“Doctors from Harvard Medical School, Charleston, and Connecticut testified that this was an indication that the patient was on the verge of a cardiac arrest and that to interrupt the treatment of the arm was negligent,” Query said. “Even doctors who testified on behalf of [Bauerle] conceded that the patient should not have been diverted from the pre-operative holding area with those vital signs.”
Query said Green’s blood pressure and pulse were zero after the cardiac arrest and that Green was without blood flow to his body for between eight minutes and 27 minutes, depending on various witness accounts and medical records.
John McCutcheon, a Myrtle Beach lawyer who represented Bauerle, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The jury awarded $2.3 million to Green and another $550,000 to his wife, Ann, following a trial that ended on Friday in Conway. Ann Green is her husband’s sole caregiver. The couple live in Marion.
The combined verdict award would have been 10th on S.C. Lawyer Weekly’s list of top verdicts and settlements in South Carolina last year, according to Dan Gearino, editor of that newspaper, which tracks jury awards throughout the state.
“My educated guess is that this verdict will make our 2013 list, and likely be among the top dozen or so awards,” Gearino said.
Conway lawyer Morgan Martin and Charleston lawyer Cristin Uricchio also represented the Greens in the malpractice case.
Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281.