Our office has obtained a settlement of over $1 million in present and future payouts  for scarring caused by a negligent surgeon who botched a child’s circumcision and then attempted to conceal his error.

The case involved a relatively inexperienced family practitioner who, during an otherwise routine circumcision of an infant, removed almost all of the skin covering the shaft of the child’s member.  The physician had apparently become confused and disoriented during the procedure and improperly re-adjusted a clamp which would have prevented this drastic mistake.  He stopped bleeding by extensively using a chemical agent to cauterize the bleeding and traumatized skin, and covered the wound with an over-large bandage.  He also reassured the child’s parents, who were concerned about their child’s appearance, that the seeping wound was ‘normal’ and would be ‘fine’ in a later visit.  The ‘overly aggressive’ circumcision was discovered by a supervising physician from the physician’s practice on the day after the circumcision, and the child was rushed to a consultation with a pediatric urologist, who eventually repaired the damage with a skin graft. The doctor later apologized to the child’s parents.

The defendant physician’s counsel insisted that the error in practice was not malpractice, but an ‘unfortunate result’, despite the physician’s subsequent termination from the family practice which hired him based upon the incident, as well as critical comments made by the head of the physician’s practice and the doctor who discovered his malpractice.  The insurer maintained this position virtually up to the time of trial, despite evidence which showed that the physician’s description of the manner in which the clamp was used was hopelessly confused and incorrect at deposition, and his attempt to distance himself from his apology to the child’s parents by claiming that it was not motivated by guilt but by a desire to avoid a malpractice suit.  Further evidence that the physician had appeared to become distracted while making comments to nursing students observing the procedure provided more proof of the physician’s failure to use due care.

The physician’s attorney also (correctly) argued that the scarring caused by the malpractice had been corrected within six months of the procedure and that the child had no observable medical problems and preserved function.  The physician’s insurer claimed that damages were therefore minimal.  We countered this argument with extensive medical research and psychiatric expert opinion concerning the likely psychological effects on child and mother caused by such a  disfigurement.  The case went to mediation one week before trial, and was successfullly settled for a structured payout worth $350,000 present value, with a stream of payments worth in excess of $1 million over the life of the child.