A man sought treatment for a painful headache at an emergency room (ER). The ER doctor prescribed an injection of pain medicine. Subsequently, a nurse employed by the hospital gave the man a shot that contained the medication that had been prescribed by the ER doctor. The man was observed approximately thirty minutes in the ER to make sure that the man did not have an adverse reaction to the injection. The man did not have an adverse reaction during that 30 minutes.
Subsequently, the man claimed that the injection caused immediate pain in the man’s left leg. When the man got the injection, it reportedly felt like an electric bolt going down the man’s left leg all the way to the toes.
The man saw a neurologist. The neurologist began treating the man for the symptoms the man was having in the man’s low back and left leg. Tests performed by the neurologist showed that the man had a sciatic nerve injury and the injury was causing pain in the lower back and left leg.
The man sued the hospital. The complaint alleged that the hospital and its nurse negligently injured the man’s sciatic nerve by injecting pain medicine into the left hip.
One of the many disputed issues in the trial concerned whether the nurse gave the man the injection in the right or left hip. The man testified that the nurse gave the man the injection in the left hip. Additionally, in their testimony, the man’s expert witnesses relied on the man’s account that the nurse gave the man the injection in a muscle located on the back side of the left hip. According to the man’s experts, the nurse should have given the injection in a muscle that lies more on the upper left or upper right side of the hip to avoid injuring the man’s sciatic nerve.
The accuracy of the man’s account of where on the man’s body the nurse gave the injection and when the man’s left leg symptoms started were disputed by other witnesses. The nurse who gave the man the injection at the ER also testified in the trial. According to the nurse, the nurse gave the man the injection in the right upper quadrant of the right hip. Medical records that were created when the man was treated were introduced during the trial. The medical records from the hospital showed that the nurse wrote in the man’s records that the nurse gave the man the injection that was at issue in the RDG. According to the nurse, RDG stood for the right dorsal glute, which is a muscle located in the rear part of a person’s hip. A typed notation in the hospital’s electronic medical records, created by the nurse in the course of charting the treatment the man received in the ER, also referenced RDG as the injection site. The expert witnesses who were asked during the trial agreed that an injection of pain medication in the right hip would not cause a sciatic nerve injury in a patient’s left leg.
Evidence presented at trial showed that the man had complained about symptoms in the man’s back and left leg to another doctor two days before the date that the man was seen in the ER.
The jury did not find that the hospital was negligent or that the hospital’s nurse caused the man’s injury. Relying on this finding, the 60th District Court, Jefferson County, entered a take-nothing judgment in favor of the hospital.
The Court of Appeals of Texas, Beaumont, affirmed. The court held that the evidence authorized the jury to reject the man’s allegation that a nurse, employed by the hospital, gave the man an injection in the left hip.
The evidence authorized the jury to reject the man’s allegation that a nurse, employed by the hospital, gave the man an injection in the left hip. The evidence that was before the jury in the trial reflected that a bona fide dispute existed about which hip the nurse used when the nurse gave the man the injection. Given the nurse’s testimony and medical records, the jury was authorized to conclude that the man was given the injection in the right hip, and that an injection on that side would not have caused any symptoms or injury to the left leg. The evidence also authorized the jury to conclude that the man’s complaints about the symptoms the man was having on the left side of the low back and left leg resulted from conditions that existed before the man was treated at the ER. There was also conflicting expert witness testimony on negligence and causation, allowing the jury to decide which experts it wanted to believe. As the factfinder, the jury was authorized to credit the nurse’s testimony, and to credit the medical records, both of which showed that the man was given the injection in the right hip. The court concluded that the jury’s verdict was reasonable in light of the authority given juries to resolve inconsistencies that exist in the testimony admitted during a trial.
The Court of Appeals of Texas, Beaumont, affirmed the trial court’s entry of judgment on a jury verdict in favor of the hospital.
See: Rodgers v. Medical Center of Southeast Texas, 2017 WL 5486043 (Tex.App.-Beaumont, November 16, 2017) (not designated for publication).
See also Medical Law Perspectives Report: Drugs, Dosage, and Damage: Physician Liability for Prescribing or Administering Medication
See the Medical Law Perspectives Blog: Patients Injected with Unsterile Training IV Solution Injured