Paraplegic Sues Doctors and Technicians for Spinal Cord Injury

In June of 2009, the Plaintiff, a 64 year old man with chronic lower back pain, underwent an elective cervical disc decompression and fusion. At the orthopedic surgeon's request, an intraoperative neurophysiologic monitoring, or IONM, to be performed.

The IONM technician was present during the surgery and responsible for performing the technical aspects required to obtain the necessary IONM data. The review and professional interpretation of the waveform data collected by the technician was conducted by a neurologist from an off-site location.

During the surgery, it was alleged by the Plaintiff that the surgeon negligently failed to protect his spinal cord from injury and as a result, he suffered a contusion to his spinal cord with significant spinal cord edema. The Plaintiff is now confined to a wheelchair with limited use of his arms and bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction.

The Plaintiff brought suit against the surgeon, IONM technician, and the neurologist. His attorney brought forth evidence that the IONM data demonstrating significant changes during the surgery that should have been reported to the surgeon but weren't. This resulted in a significant delay in the steroidal treatment of the spinal edema. The technician was unsupervised by the neurologist for most of the surgery and failed to transmit any data in realtime to the neurologist. Almost immediately after the surgery, at which point it was reasonably certain that the Plaintiff's spinal cord had been catastrophically injured, the monitoring service and IONM technician destroyed key portions of the Plaintiff's IONM data. It is unclear whether this was intentional or merely negligence. This spoilation of evidence exposed the monitoring service to even greater liability.

During a lengthy mediation process, the Plaintiff settled with the monitoring company for $4 million. Trial is scheduled in January for his claims against the surgeon, who has testified at deposition that had he received the data during the surgery, his own actions might have been different.

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Categories: Medical Malpractice
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