Verdict Concerning Government Medical Malpractice in a Phoenix, AZ VA Hospital

On April 1, 2015, Snyder & Wenner won a $3,200,000 verdict against the United States government for a medical malpractice claim arising from care rendered at the Phoenix VA Hospital.

Click Here for ABC15’s Coverage of the Case

Briefly stated, plaintiff presented at the Phoenix VA for treatment of a rotator cuff tear. The orthopedic surgeon was aware there was also a mass in the shoulder, but told the patient it was simply a fluid-filled sac that could be “washed away.” During the surgery, the doctor repaired the rotator cuff but also realized that the mass was actually solid, not fluid-filled. Without discussing this new finding with the patient, the surgeon decided to remove the solid mass from plaintiff’s shoulder. The surgeon did no preoperative workup to diagnose what the mass was or to see what nerves would be in jeopardy if the mass were removed. When the surgeon removed the mass, he cut the axillary nerve, which ran directly through the mass. In doing so, the surgeon caused permanent, severe injury to the plaintiff.

The District Court of Arizona found that the defendant fell below the standard of care in numerous ways, and that his negligence caused plaintiff’s permanent injuries. The Court found the United States liable for $3,200,000.

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