Couple sues St. Joseph's Hospital for breach of care

MORGANTOWN – A Buckhannon woman and her husband are suing St. Joseph's Hospital after they claim the hospital failed to properly monitor and care for her after surgery.

West Virginia University Board of Governors was also named as a defendant in the suit.

On Aug. 13, 2009, Tamara G. Hodges suffered a supercondylar fracture of her right elbow after falling at her home and was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where she was admitted to the care of Dr. James Jupyung Kim, according to a complaint filed June 19 in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Hodges claims Kim attempted an open reduction and internal fixation of her right elbow fracture and after the surgery, Kim continued to follow Hodges as a patient until April 7, 2010.

In the months following the surgery, Hodges complained to Kim about numbness, lack of range of motion and pain to the point of nausea, according to the suit.

Hodges claims on April 22, 2010, she met Dr. Jaiyoung Ryu for consultation and on May 12, 2010, Ryu performed surgery on her, wherein he removed hardware that had been previously placed by Kim.

Ryu also performed a right ulnar nerve subcutaneous transposition and a right total elbow arthroplasty, according to the suit.

Hodges claims over the course of the next ten months, she had numerous follow-up appointments and admissions to West Virginia University Healthcare and she developed a post-operative infection in the area of the procedure performed by Ryu.

By December 2010, the infection to Hodges' right elbow area progressed to the point that surgery was recommended by Dr. Joseph Prudhomme of West Virginia University, who then performed an excision of infected skin and sinus tract of her right elbow, according to the suit.

In January 2011, Hodges sought consultation from Dr. James E. Popp, who is an orthopedic surgeon with Cardinal Orthopedics in Columbus, Ohio, according to the suit.

Hodges claims on March 1, 2011, she had her final appointment with Ryu, who told her there was nothing more that could be done about her arm and that amputation was a possibility.

On March 31, 2011, Popp performed an irrigation and deep debridement with removal and replacement of right total elbow implant polyethylene component; a right arm radial and ulnar nerve exploration or neuroplasty; and a right radial head excision, according to the suit.

Hodges claims the defendants owed a duty of care to properly monitor her progress and to perform the proper diagnostic tests to assure that the fracture was appropriately reduced and stabilized.

The defendants breached their duties of care to Hodges when they failed to properly assess and treat her post-operatively, according to the suit.

Hodges and her husband, Frank K. Hodges, are seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Scott S. Segal, Mark R. Staun and Shawn R. Romano.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 12-C-419

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