Many times a general surgeon will believe in error that he can treat a problem that really should be referred to a specialist. In this case, our client cut his hand with a table saw and sustained lacerations to the index, middle, and ring fingers of his left hand. He immediately reported to the emergency room for repair and treatment of the injured hand. The laceration of the ring finger extended across the side of the finger totally across the bone. The middle finger laceration was at the mid portion of the middle phalanx. A general surgeon was called in to repair the lacerations to the hand; this is a complicated surgery that would have been more appropriately conducted by a hand specialist.
According to the operative report, our client was taken to surgery where two pins were positioned to hold the bone in place in the ring finger. The vein, artery, nerve and tissue on the opposite side were intact. The laceration site was then closed. Following the initial surgery, the general surgeon suggested that our client would be better off to have to distal aspect of his left ring finger amputated. Two days after the initial surgery, the distal aspect of the finger was removed, and he was discharged home the next day.
Postoperatively our client had severe pain and hypersensitivity of the middle and ring fingers and notified the general surgeon. The general surgeon never investigated the cause of the pain or sensitivity and never recommended our client for physical therapy. Eight months later, sought the second opinion of a hand specialist who immediately instituted physical therapy and advised our client that he would have to perform a revision surgery. About eight months after the initial incident the hand specialist performed a revision surgery that included: left ring finger revision of amputation; radial digital nerve neurectomy; ulnar digital nerve neurectomy of left ring finger; excision of nail cyst, left ring finger; left long finger tenolysis; left long finger digital nerve repair; left long finger tenolysis of extensor mechanism. Moreover, during the surgery the hand specialist found that the general surgeon had placed a green suture through our client’s digital nerve. Following the surgery the hand specialist instituted vigorous physical therapy, and our client’s hypersensitivity and pain improved.
Due to the poor surgical technique and treatment that our client received from the general surgeon, he had to suffer through months of pain and undergo painful subsequent treatments. Furthermore, he had to miss over 1000 hours of work due to his injuries. The general surgeon should have consulted a hand specialist in order to properly repair the lacerated fingers. The general surgeon should have also instituted physical therapy as to strengthen the hand after the surgery had been conducted. If these two actions would have been taken, then our client would not have had to undergo the extended treatments, revision surgeries, and the pain that each of these caused. Todd Townsley was able to settle this case out of court and bring justice to this client and his family.