Watch the video below to learn more about cervical herniated disc medical malpractice and wrongful death medical malpractice cases.
0:19 Cervical Herniated Disc Medical Malpractice: Joint Disease – Osteoarthritis (OA)
3:24 What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?
I mentioned that the elements of medical malpractice are negligence, damages, and causation. I’m going to give you an example of how all of that pulls together and some of the decisions that are made about moving a medical malpractice case forward, such as a cervical herniated disc medical malpractice and wrongful death claim.
0:19 Cervical Herniated Disc Medical Malpractice Degenerative: Joint Disease – Osteoarthritis (OA)
There’s a case that I have down in Florida and it’s a tragic case. There are huge damages. This 52-year-old man, he had arthritis in his neck. It’s called degenerative joint disease, and so as a result of that, he started having numbness and tingling in his fingers. He started having some weakness in his upper extremities. And so he went in and had an MRI, which is a fancy x-ray, a real sensitive x-ray that showed that some of the discs that are like bushings and cushions for the bones in his neck were slipping back and pushing on his spinal cord.
As a result of that, he had surgery. The surgery went fine, they kind of stabilized the cervical spine. They got the bushings, the disc off of the cervical spine, and he was discharged home. As soon as he got home, after being home for a couple of hours, he noticed that he had some swelling in his shoulder.
So he came back to the emergency room and he had what’s called a hematoma. That is basically bleeding around the area of the surgery. So they had operated on his neck and so he had swelling and the swelling was kind of closing off his airway, and so necessarily they had to put a tube in so that he could breathe, and then he went back to surgery and they cut into the area and let the blood out that was causing the swelling.
And so he was doing fine, and probably five days after that, the nurse that was taking care of him came in and noticed that he had started leaking again, bleeding from the wound area from the wound side in the back of his neck from the surgery. And you know the nurse was a male nurse, he put pressure there and then probably four or five hours later, he came back in and it was still bleeding. He put some more pressure. Two hours after that, the wife of the patient called the nurse and said, hey my husband can’t move his upper extremities and he has weakness in his legs right now. And so the nurse called the physician assistant who was covering for the neurosurgery team. Didn’t speak with a neurosurgeon, but called the physician assistant and the physician assistant just incredibly said, hey, we’ll just wait and get an x-ray or MRI in the morning. You know some seven hours later, obviously, this was like ridiculously, catastrophically wrong advice.
This physician assistant did not pick up the phone and call the neurosurgeon and say, hey, you know this guy was moving his extremities earlier, he’s not moving them now. As a result, there was a delay of eight hours, eight to nine hours before the MRI was done. It showed he had another collection of blood, another hematoma, and this hematoma was pushing up on the spinal cord. They rushed in the surgery, they got the blood off the spinal cord, but as a result of the duration the length of compression, the time of compression on the spinal cord, this man never recovered the use of his arms or his legs again. He was a quadriplegic.
3:24 What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?
This is a case where the damages are clear. I mean huge, huge, huge damages. Well, this man lived for about another four years. He just died probably a couple of months ago, and we modified the complaint from a medical malpractice claim to a wrongful death claim claiming that his death was caused by the quadriplegic, and we had to do that just because, you know, there are some timing issues. But in order to make that connection, you have to have expert testimony. You have to have neurosurgeons, neurologists, who can say okay, the quadriplegia, the fact that he couldn’t move his arms and legs is what caused his death.
Well, the autopsy showed that he had extensive coronary artery disease, hardening of the arteries. He had some scarring in his heart as a result of uncontrolled high blood pressure. He did not have any blood clots in his lungs and things of that sort, and so the nexus, the connection between the quadriplegia and his death became quite frankly, speculative. There’s no physiological way to correlate the two. It could, clearly him being a quadriplegic could relate to his death, but there is no textbook. There is no expert who can come and connect the dots and that’s what juries demand. That’s what you have to prove.
As a result of that, he died. His death was caused by the quadriplegic and by the negligence of the PA and the nurse, but we don’t have the requisite expert testimony needed to tie his negligence or the negligence that was keeped on him to his death, and so this is a classic example of how those elements and how they work in the legal system.
Again, I consider medical malpractice and laws like doing brain surgery with an ax, meaning that it is very inexact. Sometimes you know, I didn’t create the system, you didn’t create the system, but this is what we have, and so we have to use the tools and the rules that are given to us and do our best in bringing people justice and accountability.
In this case, there will be no accountability for the man’s death, but there will be accountability for the four years that he spent lying on his back, in a wheelchair, not able to hug his wife and kids.
If you believe that you have tremendous damages or have a situation with a friend or family member who has tremendous damages that you believe are due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, reach out to Law MD, hit us up online at www.LawMD.com.