Surgical errors are perhaps the most devastating form of medical malpractice that a patient can experience. In many cases, the patient dies due to such errors. And even when the patient lives, their quality of life may be fundamentally altered. Unfortunately, doctors and hospitals are loathe to admit surgical error, which in turn forces patients to seek relief through the courts.
Doctors Claimed Stroke, Not Surgical Error, Caused Patient’s Paralysis
This was the case for Patricia Jones, a woman in her 60s, who was paralyzed following spinal surgery 10 years earlier at a hospital in White Plains, New York, which is a suburb of New York City. The two doctors who performed the surgery claimed the paralysis was the result of Jones suffering a stroke during the procedure, rather than any error on their part. A New York state jury disagreed, however, and awarded Jones and her husband nearly $56 million in damages.
According to accounts of the recently completed trial published in the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, Jones was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital to undergo surgery to relieve pain in her arms, hands, and neck. But during the procedure, a “piece of fractured bone became embedded in the protective covering of the spinal cord, which caused a contusion to the cord.” At trial, Jones’ personal injury lawyer explained to the jury that the surgeons knew something had gone wrong but “didn’t tell anybody that.”
The day following the surgery, Jones suffered a sudden loss of blood pressure and she was completely paralyzed. Doctors then waited nearly three hours to perform a CAT scan. A radiologist reviewed the scan and determined there was an epidural hematoma on Jones’ spinal cord. This conflicted with the surgeons’ account, which was that there was no hematoma and told Hones “her spinal cord had suffered a stroke.”
Jones remains paralyzed for life. But the evidence presented at trial indicated that had the surgeons admitted their error and promptly removed the hematoma, Jones would still be able to walk. Nevertheless, the defendant surgeons continued to stand by their stroke theory at trial.
The jury ultimately found the plaintiff’s evidence more compelling. It awarded Jones $20 million for her pain and suffering. With other damages–including $10 million to Jones’ husband for his loss of consortium–the final verdict came to $55.9 million. The Journal News said this was likely the largest medical malpractice verdict in Rockland County history, although the two surgeons are only liable for half of that amount, as other defendants, including the hospital, reached out-of-court settlements with Jones.
Contact the Cleveland Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Tittle & Perlmutter Today
Cases like this highlight the importance of working with an experienced Cleveland medical malpractice attorney if you have been paralyzed or seriously injured as the result of surgical error by an Ohio physician. You cannot rely on the doctor or the hospital to come clean about their responsibility. Contact Tittle & Perlmutter at (216) 308-1522 if you speak with a lawyer today.