Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Emphasizes Importance of Checking Disc Level in Spine Surgery

Illinois surgical errors are particularly frightening examples of Illinois medical malpractice, because they can strike with such immediacy. A patient enters into facility for one reason, loses consciousness under anesthesia, and then wakes up with new problems that he never expected to have. That is if a patient wakes up at all. There are certainly many sad examples of patients who pass away during surgery because of a variety of complications. Many patients are understandable nervous whenever they “go under the knife.” When medical professionals make costly errors during surgery that affect the life of a patient, then the victim and their family often have legal rights to hold the wrongdoer accountable for the misconduct. This is the case so that the family will have the resources necessary to provide the care the victim needs. In addition, these suits also act as an important check on the conduct of these medical professionals, often leading them to enact necessary alterations and safety changes to ensure that the error does not happen again.

For example, on Thursday Outpatient Surgery News reported on a new jury award in a medical malpractice case related to spinal surgery and the way that the award is an important reminder for surgeons everywhere. According to the report, the case involved a spine surgeon who removed the wrong spinal disc on a patient while performing surgery. Research specifically into spinal surgery recently found that operating on the wrong vertebrae was consistently one of the most common causes of medical negligence. This problem is particularly problematic among spinal surgeons, who have the second highest incidences of errors, second only to OB/GYN physicians.

According to the report, the negligent doctor in this particular case removed the T6-T7 spinal disc even though it was the T5-T6 disc that needed to be removed. A second surgery needed to be performed to correct the problem. When discussing the case, the physician admitted that the error was made. He claimed that unclear MRI imaging played a role in the malpractice. On top of not having a clear image, the doctor also explained that the patient’s height (6 feet, 2 inches) also made it difficult to count the vertebrae correctly. Also, the herniation of the disk was apparently obscured from the doctor’s view. Following the incorrect surgery the patient and his wife filed a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover lost wages, cost of the surgery, physical pain, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and other damages. The jury eventually returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.

The story explains how this latest case is being used as an important reminder that physicians need to properly sign, mark, and x-ray to verify the site of the surgery. It is important that all of these physicians insist on clear imaging and careful counting of the vertebrae to ensure that no mistakes are made and the work is performed in the correct spot on the patient’s body. This is obviously a fundamental aspect of reasonable care, and any deviation from these practices likely constitutes clear medical malpractice.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Jury Award $6.7 Million in Hospital Malpractice Lawsuit

Illinois Medical Malpractice Complaint Filed Against Brain & Spine Center

Lawyer Monthly - Legal Awards Winner
The National Trial Lawyers
Elder Care Matters Alliance
American Association for Justice
Fellow Litigation Counsel of America
Super Lawyers