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Patient wins $1 million award in UPMC malpractice lawsuit

Saturday, February 04, 2006
By Jim McKinnon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A jury yesterday awarded more than $1 million to a North Hills man who suffered a permanent sciatic injury and accompanying complications after he underwent knee surgery seven years ago at UPMC Presbyterian.

A jury of six men and six women, however, found that none of the defendants -- Dr. Revathi Toshok, UPMC, and the University of Pittsburgh Physicians group with which the doctor is affiliated -- were negligent in the injury to Lindsay Nahay of McCandless.

The jury found that Dr. Toshok failed to fully inform Mr. Nahay, in accordance with state law, of the risks, complications and alternatives to the type of anesthesia he received.

The anesthesia left Mr. Nahay unemployable and with constant pain and numbness in one foot, said his attorney, Mike George.

Mr. Nahay, 47, underwent same-day knee surgery on Feb. 11, 1999. He's had similar surgery in the past, usually done under general anesthesia.

But in 1999, Dr. Toshok used a nerve-blocking technique that involved an injection into his sciatic nerve. This numbed only the limb on which he was to be operated, Mr. George said. His client was reluctant to cooperate, fearing the complications that he, in fact, eventually suffered.

Mr. Nahay now suffers permanent sciatic nerve neuropathy with permanent numbness and burning pain in his left foot.

He now requires high doses of medications that cause severe cognitive difficulties. A salesman of power generation equipment, Mr. Nahay has lost two well paying jobs since the surgery, Mr. George said.

Also, more surgery was required to implant a spinal cord stimulator to control pain.

Mr. Nahay was awarded $150,000 for pain and suffering; $750,000 in past and future lost wages; and $160,000 for future medical bills and expenses.

His wife, Christine, was awarded $40,000 for loss of consortium, Mr. George said.

"He was extremely gratified that the jury believed him since, over the last six years, UPMC and Dr. Toshok did everything they could to avoid responsibility for what they did to him," Mr. George said.

Defense attorney Stephen M. Houghton declined comment yesterday on the verdict.

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