Any medical operation on or around the spinal cord, vertebrae, cartilage, or nerves and blood vessels in the back carries a risk of permanent, life-altering harm if surgeons and staff do not perform their duties with the utmost care. Most often, medical professionals meet this high standard with great skill and care. Surgeons and their support staff create extraordinary results for many patients suffering from painful and life-limiting disorders affecting the spine or spinal cord., Regrettably, not every patient emerges from the operating room with great results. When medical professionals are careless or negligent during spinal surgery, patients can suffer irreversible neurological injury and damage..
If you sustained a poor outcome from spinal surgery that has left you with a severe injury or disability, get in touch with a Pittsburgh spinal surgery malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Aside from providing you with some measure of justice for the harm you unfairly sustained, a seasoned surgical errors attorney can pursue compensation to help you deal with your disabilities and maximize your quality of life.
Types of Negligence During Spinal Surgery
Most patients who undergo spine surgery have a problem involving the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, spinal nerve roots, the spinal cord, or a combination of these parts of the spine and nervous system. Often, spine surgery is performed to relieve compression of the spinal cord or the spinal nerve roots. Compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots causes significant pain, sensory problems, or weakness in the arms, fingers, legs, or feet.
Surgeons know it is critical to protect the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots from injury during spinal surgery. Live X-ray imaging known as fluoroscopy and continuous electromyographic nerve monitoring are two methods surgeons use to help protect the spinal cord and nerve roots during parts of surgery which may increase the risk of injury to these structures. Despite these safety measures, inattention, haste, or carelessness can lead to the following types of negligence during spinal surgery:
– Failure to perform complete pre-operative testing and evaluation necessary to identify potential risks of surgery
– Misplacing cages, prosthetic discs, or bone grafts designed to take the place of intervertebral discs
– Failure to remove bone spurs (osteophytes), hardened ligaments, or pieces of bone or disc compressing the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots
– Failure to increase low blood pressure during surgery, which deprives the spinal cord of oxygen-rich blood it needs to survive
-Failure to use safety measures like electromyographic neuromonitoring or fluoroscopy to prevent or identify inadvertent injury to the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots
– Failure to realize when patients have worsening function after spinal surgery, diagnose the problem or bring the patient back to the operating room
– Failure to recognize screws misplaced outside the vertebrae and injuring the nerve roots or spinal cord
– Defective surgical devices or hardware
Any physician who misdiagnoses a spinal condition, treats such a condition too aggressively, or does not ensure a surgery patient receives proper post-operative care could bear civil fault for any physical harm their patient suffers as a result.
The Catastrophic Consequences of Negligence During Spinal Surgery
When the misconduct of a surgeon, assistant, staff member, or any other hospital employee causes an avoidable injury during a spinal operation, the repercussions can be extremely overwhelming. Damage to the spinal cord is often permanent in nature and, depending on the nature of the injury, could leave a previously healthy patient with paraplegia or quadriplegia. Patients who suffer injuries to the spinal cord may lose control of their bowel or bladder function. Often, injuries during spinal surgery will leave a patient unable to perform basic self-care or activities of life. An attorney’s guidance can be crucial to identify the types of services the injured person will need just to get through a day of life and secure a settlement or jury verdict large enough to pay for the costs of such services.
Recovering for Past and Future Damages
Fortunately for plaintiffs, Pennsylvania state law does not enforce any caps on financial recovery for economic or non-economic damages stemming from medical malpractice. A patient could demand restitution for the full value of all losses related to their injury, including:
- Past and future expenses for additional medical/rehabilitative care
- Lost working capacity and/or short-term wages
- Costs of home/vehicle modifications and/or necessary in-home assistance
- Lost enjoyment and overall quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Physical and psychological suffering
A spinal surgery malpractice lawyer in Pittsburgh could provide specific guidance during a private consultation about what losses could possibly be factored in a particular claim.
Discuss Your Legal Options with a Pittsburgh Spinal Surgery Malpractice Attorney
Surgical procedures for injuries or conditions involving the spine require extremely specialized knowledge and careful adherence to established procedures throughout every step of pre-surgery prep, the surgery itself, and post-operative care. If any employee of a healthcare facility fails to fulfill their responsibilities in this regard, they can cause serious harm to their patient and open themselves and their employer to civil liability.
A conversation with a Pittsburgh spinal surgery malpractice lawyer could provide the answers you need to effectively protect your rights. Schedule a free consultation today to get started.