In November 2016, plaintiffs’ child presented at Resurgens Orthopaedics to treat his fractured left forearm. On December 5th, 2016, the plaintiffs returned for a standard follow-up visit for Dr. Satterwhite to re-wrap the child’s loosened splint.
According to plaintiffs, Dr. Satterwhite re-wrapped the child’s splint too tight using a self-adherent material known as Coban over the newly applied ACE wrap bandage. Plaintiffs further alleged that the splint was wrapped so tight that the child began to cry, and his fingers began to swell. Dr. Satterwhite allegedly disregarded the child’s pain and sent the family home without loosening the splint.
The splint cut off blood circulation to the child’s left arm and hand. As a result of the injury, the child underwent multiple surgeries, currently requires ongoing therapy, and lost significant use of his hand due to permanent disfigurement.
Plaintiffs alleged that Dr. Satterwhite deviated from the standard of protocol by wrapping the child’s splint with both the ACE bandage wrap and the Coban material. Plaintiff’s also contend that Dr. Satterwhite altered her medical notes after the injury by deleting her references to using Coban.
The plaintiffs were represented by trial attorney Moses Kim of The Moses Firm based in Atlanta, GA.
Plaintiffs, the parents of the child, brought a medical malpractice action against Dr. Satterwhite and Resurgens Orthopaedics seeking damages for the child’s injury, pain and suffering, and lifelong limitations due to his permanent disfigurement. Defendants attempted to settle the action before going to trial for $2 million. However, the offer was rejected by the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ counsel counteroffer was also rejected, which sent the matter to trial for March 27, 2023.
The six-day trial, set before Senior Judge Jerry A. Baxter, focused on what caused the child’s injury and what occurred after the injury was discovered. Plaintiffs’ counsel presented evidence showing that the combined use of the self-adhesive Coban wrap over ACE flexible wrap to secure the child’s splint was medically inappropriate and cut off circulation to the child’s hand. Plaintiffs’ counsel also presented evidence that Dr. Satterwhite deleted references to Coban in her medical notes following the child’s injury.
On the other hand, defendants argued that the child’s injury was caused by a rare condition known as acute subcutaneous lymphedema compression neuropathy and they met the applicable standards of care of each stage in treatment. Defendants presented x-ray imaging that showed unusual fluid collection in the child’s arm unrelated to the wrap, which they maintained was the ultimate cause of the child’s injuries.
In addition, defendants argued that Dr. Satterwhite’s changes to her notes following the child’s injury were innocuous clerical edits typically made before finalizing medical notes.
The Key Takeaways from Plaintiffs’ Strategy
According to plaintiffs’ counsel, the key to their success was keeping the case simple for the jury. Plaintiffs’ counsel sought to remind the jury that the simplest explanation for an injury– splint wrapped too tight– is usually the correct explanation.
Plaintiffs’ counsel’s strategy also included discrediting defendants’ arguments. For example, plaintiffs’ counsel attacked Dr. Satterwhite’s credibility regarding her diagnosis of the permanent injury as acute subcutaneous lymphedema compression neuropathy by demonstrating that no expert witness was aware of such a diagnosis.