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Jury Awards $4 Million to Cyst Removal Patient

Doctor Checking the Heart of an Elderly ManA medical malpractice lawsuit just ended with a $4 million jury award in favor of the plaintiff over allegations that the man experienced irreversible injuries from an in-office surgical procedure performed by his family physician.

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff, a then-29-year-old man, suffered from permanent nerve damage following a routine in-office cyst removal procedure. The lawsuit references the future damages the plaintiff is expected to experience as a result of the botched surgical procedure, which was performed by the defendant in this case, Dr. Harris Cohen. Dr. Cohen is a physician at the Hatboro Medical Associates practice, according to

Dr. Cohen advised the plaintiff that he was qualified to perform ambulatory procedures and performed the cyst removal on July 29, 2009. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff began to experience weakness in his left arm and shoulder. The medical malpractice lawsuit also alleges that the plaintiff experienced difficulty when picking up items with his left arm and that he was unable to move his left arm more than 90 degrees. An orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon both determined that a major motor nerve had been severed during the plaintiff’s cyst removal procedure. The spinal accessory nerve, which branches off from the cervical spinal cord, was the nerve allegedly damaged, reported.

Injuries lead to pain, limited mobility, weakness

Johns Hopkins Medicine describes the spinal accessory nerve as being the eleventh of the 12 cranial nerves and as part of the cranial nerve network. The spinal accessory nerve can be found on the side of the neck. This nerve also supplies nerves to two key muscles—the trapezius and sternomastoid muscles—that control certain movements of the shoulder, including shrugging, and tilting and rotating of the head.

The plaintiff is a certified steamfitter, master electrician, and licensed plumber who requires full use of his arm to complete the myriad tasks for which he is trained, the medical malpractice lawsuit indicates. While the man is employed as an HVAC mechanic working with his father in the family business, he is unable to complete some tasks alone due to his physical limitations, court documents indicate.

Doctor alleges man’s nerve anomalous, experts disagree

Meanwhile, court documents submitted by the defendant described the results of this surgery as an “anomaly,” and allege that the plaintiff’s spinal accessory nerve was not located beneath the muscle, which is where it is typically found. According to the lawsuit, the doctor alleges that he could not know about this alleged anomalous situation prior to operating on the plaintiff’s cyst. Dr. Cohen said the lump on the plaintiff’s neck was a boil or cyst and recommended incision and draining or cyst removal.

The expert witness testifying on behalf of the plaintiff said that the man’s nerve was where it was supposed to be and that the doctor made his incision too deep. The plaintiff’s attorney noted that while the plaintiff is not stating that the physician is a bad doctor, the medical malpractice lawsuit does allege a mistake was made in this procedure, and that the medical care received was not up to “commonly accepted standards,” according to

The large medical malpractice award took into consideration that damage to the spinal accessory nerve can lead to a number of adverse reactions including pain, limited mobility, and weakness, which, in this plaintiff’s case, are expected to be permanent given that the damage cannot be corrected.