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Georgia Court of Appeals Rejects Medical Expert Testimony, Requiring More than a “Mere Possibility” to Establish Causation

Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case that was brought against several doctors who performed a surgery on the plaintiff that resulted in the plaintiff permanently losing the use of his right arm. The issue that the court had to decide was whether the expert testimony presented by the plaintiff was sufficient to establish the causation element of a Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit. Ultimately, the court determined that the experts’ testimony did not establish the necessary causation because it failed to provide more than a “medical possibility” that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

SurgeryThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had a surgery performed by the defendant doctors. Prior to the surgery, the doctors positioned the plaintiff in a manner they believed necessary, with both his hands placed behind his back. During the surgery, which lasted approximately 9.5 hours, the plaintiff was not repositioned. The surgery was successful, and the plaintiff was taken to a recovery room. However, upon waking up from the anesthesia, the plaintiff began to complain about pain in his shoulders and arms.

The plaintiff was later diagnosed with compartment syndrome in his right arm, and a subsequent surgery was necessary to relieve the pressure. Unfortunately, the plaintiff never fully regained the use of his arm. He filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors who performed the surgery, claiming that the initial placement of his body during the surgery and the doctor’s failure to reposition him during the surgery caused his injuries.

The plaintiff had two experts testify regarding causation. The collective testimony of the experts was that the initial positioning of the plaintiff’s body “may have contributed” to his injuries. However, the experts conceded that such placement of a patient’s body for this specific type of surgery was not a deviation from the normal standard of care. The experts also testified that if the defendant doctors had repositioned the plaintiff during the 9.5-hour long surgery, some of his injuries may have been avoided or lessened.

The Court Determines the Experts’ Testimony Failed to Establish Causation

The court began its analysis by explaining that causation in a medical malpractice case must be established by a reasonable degree of medical certainty. The court acknowledged that a plaintiff may link the testimony of several experts to reach the required standard, but ultimately more than a mere “medical possibility” is necessary to establish causation. Here, the court explained, the experts’ testimony merely presented the court with the possibility that the defendant’s actions could have caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Neither of the experts testified that anything the defendants did or did not do actually caused the plaintiff’s injuries, so their testimony failed to establish causation.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a Georgia medical professional’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Miller Legal Services have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including those arising out of negligent medical care. Call 770-284-3727 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury advocate today.

More Blog Posts:

Georgia Court of Appeals Holds Employer May Be Liable for Employee’s Drunk Driving Accident, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 22, 2017.

Georgia Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Premises Liability Case, Based on Plaintiff’s Inability to Prove Causation, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 6, 2017.