A Rockland County, New York couple received a settlement of $2.5 million on the ninth day of a medical malpractice trial.
In the presentation of his case, David Carey, a sales manager, told the court that on Sept. 2, 1997, he visited Rockland Ear, Nose & Throat Associates in Bardonia, N.Y., complaining of a persistent sore throat, and bleeding from the back of his throat.
Dr. Leacroft Green, who examined Mr. Carey, could not detect the source of his bleeding, but he determined that Mr. Carey was suffering from a deviated septum. Dr. Green recommended and nine days later performed two procedures that do not require surgical incisions. They are usually done together: a submucosal septal resection - also known as a septoplasty -- in which portions of the septum are trimmed, reshaped and repositioned, and bilateral inferior-turbinate resection, which reduces the size of the structure that fills the lower portion of the nasal airway.
The procedures were performed at Nyack Hospital. Mr. Carey began experiencing headaches after the first part of the procedure -- the septoplasty. Mr. Carey subsequently was found to have a fracture of his cribriform plate, a portion of the spongy bone that forms the roof of the nasal fossae and part of the floor of the skull's anterior fossa.
On Oct. 9, he underwent repair surgery. He continues to experience headaches. Mr. Carey claimed that he had no nose-related problems, and thus, that the surgeries were unnecessary.
Mr. Carey also alleged that Dr. Green departed from accepted standards of practice. He contended that Dr. Green grabbed his cribriform plate rather than snipping at his nasal cartilage, and thus, that Dr. Green caused the cribriform-plate fracture. He also contended that Dr. Green should have consulted with his primary-care physician. Mr. Carey's wife, Marina Carey, presented a loss-of-services claim.
The defendents contended Mr. Carey's cribriform plate had been weakened by a sinus disease, and, as such, the damage was a risk of the surgery. They also contended the cribriform-plate damage occurred during the second half of the procedure. Thus, the defendants contended, Mr. Carey's headaches were unrelated to his cribriform-plate damage.
The defendants contended that Mr. Carey's injuries stemmed from a quiescent immune disease that became manifest months after the surgery. They contended the immune disease resulted in sinus infections, which damaged Mr. Carey's sinus tissue, and "empty nose syndrome," which contributed to his headaches.