Our patient, Tayba Tahir, underwent a temporal artery biopsy (TAB), a routine procedure usually lasting no more than 15-20 minutes. The goal of the procedure is to sample a small piece of the temporal artery for testing. TABs are typically performed in the hairline above the ear or sometimes in the temple or forehead area above the ear. The area below the hairline in front of the ear is sometimes referred to as a “surgical danger zone” because a bundle of facial nerves exists in this region.
Tayba’s vascular surgeon made the incision in the “surgical danger zone” below Tayba’s hairline and in front of her ear. The procedure lasted almost an hour and the surgeon failed to sample the temporal artery at all. Instead, the surgeon biopsied a piece of Tayba’s temporal vein. As a result, the procedure had no benefit for Tayba.
Tayba’s surgeon never explained the increased risk of facial nerve injury in the location before he attempted the TAB. TABs in this area are unheard of in the medical literature – because of the risk of injury to the facial nerve.
After the procedure, Ms. Tahir suffered from facial paralysis and severe pain. It was discovered that her surgeon had traumatized and damaged Ms. Tahir’s facial nerve – a major nerve that innervates the muscles of the face and provides sensation to the face. Tayba now suffers from permanent and debilitating pain that requires aggressive medical treatment. Because of her extreme pain, high levels of medication needed to treat the pain, and her facial paralysis, Ms. Tahir was forced to step down from her lifelong career as the Director of the Akron Polymer Training Center, a job she had intended to maintain for many years to come, and limit most of the activities that she had enjoyed prior to the procedure.
Tayba was represented by Spangenberg Law Firm attorneys Nicholas DiCello. After a week-long trial, the jury delivered a multi-million dollar verdict to provide for Ms. Tahir’s future medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In doing so the jury sent a strong message about a patient’s right to safe medical care the the right to be informed about the surgical risks and alternatives.