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Patient Sustained Injury on Trampoline as Part of Physical Therapy Treatment

Girl With Fractured Femur and Complicated Medical History Suffers Failure of External and Internal Fixator During Physical Therapy - $157,676 Net Verdict

The plaintiff, age seven, had been diagnosed with ​rhabdomyosarcoma in the right thigh in 2004, at the age of two. Treatment of the cancer had led to a compromised immune system and cardiomyopathy as a consequence of contracting Epstein Barr. 

The child underwent a heart transplant at the age of five and she also suffered osteonecrosis of the right hip from the cancer treatment. The osteonecrosis had led to a fracture of the right femur. The fractured femur could not be addressed immediately because of the heart transplant. 

When the time was right the plan was developed for application of a multiplanar external fixator and then insertion of an internal fixator to repair the femur fracture and femoral acetabular impingement, followed by modification of the external fixator. 

It was at this time that she had a physical therapy plan developed by a physical therapist in November 2009. The plaintiff was then taken to the physical therapy facility and placed on a therapy trampoline. 

While jumping on the trampoline, both the internal and external fixator failed, causing three screws from the internal fixator to separate from the femur. This caused the plaintiff to require an emergency repair surgery. The plaintiff alleged negligence in the physical therapy treatment. 

The case was initially tried to a hung jury. At the second trial the plaintiff alleged negligence in having a physical therapy plan which would involve impact to the femur. The defendant argued that the plan was consistent with the orthopedic surgeon’s prescription, which called for weight bearing, as tolerated, and range of movement of the right leg.

According to a published account a $407,676 verdict was returned. The verdict was reduced to $157,676 by MICRA. 

With permission from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts; Lewis Laska, Editor, 901 Church St., Nashville, TN 37203-3411, 1-800-298-6288.

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