Wrong area of face drilled during ear surgery, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Dec. 15, 2008, 5:49am

A St. Clair County man has filed suit against Ear, Nose and Throat Institute and one of its physicians, alleging his face was paralyzed after the physician mistakenly drilled into the wrong area during an ear surgery.

Mark Geyer claims Dr. Carl W. Lee II performed a right ear tympanomastoidectomy to repair an anterior inferior perforation on May 7, 2007, at Belleville Memorial Hospital, according to the complaint filed Dec. 8 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

During the surgery, an instrument either slipped out of Lee's hand or Lee drilled in an area not properly identified, causing Lee to cut Geyer's chorda tympani nerve, the suit states.

That resulted in damage to Geyer's facial nerve, he claims.

Because of the surgery, Geyer suffered facial nerve paralysis, according to the complaint.

He also was not able to blink his right eyelid and developed a speech impediment in the form of a lisp and slurred speech, the suit states.

Geyer claims he suffered severe discomfort and mental anguish, has been permanently disfigured and suffered mental and emotional fear and anguish.

Because of the surgery, Geyer has been unable to function, work, labor, earn wages and enjoy the ordinary pursuits of life, according to the complaint.

He also has incurred medical expenses, the suit states.

Since the surgery, Geyer has been prescribed to take steroids, undergone a nerve conduction study performed at St. John's Hospital, had an eyelid weight inserted into his right eyelid and has undergone further corrective surgery, the suit states.

Lee was negligent by failing to appropriately warn Geyer of the risks of surgery, by inappropriately conducting surgery on June 13, 2007, by misusing an instrument during surgery and by drilling into an area of Geyer's head that was not properly identified, Geyer claims.

In the two-count suit, Geyer is seeking a judgment in excess of $100,000, plus costs.

Amy Collignon Gunn of Simon and Passanante of St. Louis will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 08-L-628.

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