On April 3, 2013, Clark Hudson successfully defended a local Rheumatologist/Internist. The plaintiff, a female patient with a lengthy history of osteoarthritis in both knees, alleged the defendant physician was negligent when performing a Synvisc injection to her left knee because she subsequently developed an infection. Specifically, plaintiff claimed the defendant doctor failed to use sterile technique when performing the injection by contaminating the needle or failing to properly remove bacteria from the skin during his sterile prep. Plaintiff argued the infection, a streptococcus viridians bacterium which is generally mouth borne but ended up in her knee, was almost impossible to occur if the doctor used sterile technique. Plaintiff maintained throughout trial because this type of incident did not ordinarily occur unless someone was negligent, then it follows the doctor had to be negligent. Finally, plaintiff alleged she should have been started on antibiotics three days earlier when her first culture results showed the rare strep bacteria.

The defense maintained throughout trial infections are a well-recognized risk of any interventional medical procedure. While steps are taken to minimize the risk of infection, one can never eliminate the risk; infections can and do occur despite a physician's best efforts. Defendant doctor documented his use of sterile prep and appropriately ordered the necessary follow up tests to determine whether the strep bacteria was a contaminate or pathogen. The defense maintained because of defendant's thorough follow up care the plaintiff received the appropriate treatment she needed once a diagnosis was made. Further, even if a diagnosis had been made three days earlier, plaintiff's treatment and outcome would have remained the same.

The jury deliberated for approximately fifteen minutes before rendering a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of the doctor.

Clark R. Hudson is a shareholder at Neil Dymott Hudson and concentrates his practice on the defense of healthcare professionals and general litigation.  Mr. Hudson may be reached at (619) 238-1712.