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Spinal Cord Injuries and Medical Malpractice


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When Providers Cause or Worsen a Spinal Cord Injury

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Spinal Cord Injuries and Medical Malpractice

  1. 1. SPINAL CORD INJURIES AND MEDICAL MALPRACTICE When Providers Cause or Worsen a Spinal Cord Injury
  2. 2. Understanding a Spinal Cord Injury Every year, around 17,000 people in the United States suffer a spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries are the second-leading cause of paralysis, accounting for more than a quarter of all cases. If not treated properly by medical professionals, these injuries can be made much worse for patients. Some doctors also suggest surgeries to alleviate back pain and spinal cord problems that have been proven ineffective and could possibly lead to other health complications.
  3. 3. When Medical Malpractice leads to SCI In a medical setting, a spinal cord injury can be caused or worsened by the mistakes of medical professionals. In some of the situations, these mistakes might be classified as medical malpractice. Examples include:  Incorrectly positioning a patient during surgery  Failure to monitor spinal cord function during spinal surgery or aortic aneurysm surgery  Improper chiropractic spinal manipulation  Failure to immobilize spine following trauma  Failure to recognize spine fracture or dislocation after trauma.
  4. 4. Unnecessary Spinal Surgeries - Why do They Happen? Back pain is one of the most common conditions people suffer. Around 80 percent of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives. It’s no surprise that people will seek medical advice to remedy their problem. When a doctor advises a patient that surgery is necessary, the patient often follows that advice. However, studies suggest that some procedures do little to help patients and could lead to further complications or potentially worsen back pain. Let’s look at a couple of examples...
  5. 5. Example 1: Spinal Fusions  A spinal fusion occurs when two or more vertebrae are fused together, typically with rods and screws.  From 2001 to 2011, the number of spinal fusions performed in the United States increased by 70 percent, according to CBS News.  A clinical trial of spinal fusions found that these procedures are no more effective than nonoperative treatment.  These procedures can cause serious health complications, including paralysis, nerve damage or the worsening of a person’s back condition.
  6. 6. Example 2: Vertebroplasty  Vertebroplasty is a procedure commonly used to treat compression spinal fractures.  The New England Journal of Medicine has equated it to a sham procedure, according to the New York Times.  Vertebroplasty has shown to be ineffective at helping patients, yet it continues to be common practice.
  7. 7. Consequences of Medical Malpractice Involving SCI  Further medical treatments and costs  Diminished work capacity and lost income  Diminished quality of life. When a medical professional worsens a spinal cord injury, the patient may encounter:
  8. 8. Costs of Paralysis When spinal cord injuries lead to paralysis, the costs can be especially steep for the sufferer.  The estimated lifetime cost of quadriplegia for a 25-year-old ranges from $3,451,781 to $4,724,181.  The estimated lifetime cost of quadriplegia for a 50-year-old ranges from $2,123,154 to $2,596,329.  The estimated lifetime cost of paraplegia for a 25-year-old is $2,310,104.  The estimated lifetime cost of paraplegia for a 50-year-old is $1,516,052.
  9. 9. Options for Victims of Malpractice When a patient suffers harm from a medical professional’s error, they can sometimes file a medical malpractice claim to recover the costs associated with their injuries. These claims are based on the idea that when a doctor fails to deliver an acceptable level of care and patients suffer as a result, they can be held accountable for the damage they have caused.
  10. 10. Finding the Right Attorney Medical malpractice cases can be extremely complex. Sometimes the evidence is buried deeply in medical records and is difficult even for those familiar with these issues to discover. Not all attorneys, even those who handle some medical malpractice claims, are prepared to take on these types of cases. At Cirignani Heller & Harman, LLP, we have both the legal and medical expertise to take on the most complex medical malpractice claims.
  11. 11. To Learn More… Contact the Law Firm of Cirignani Heller & Harman, LLP. We are dedicated to helping clients who have suffered from medical negligence. Our team will meet with you and your loved ones to discuss your case and help you better understand your legal options. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form or calling 312-346-8700 to schedule a free case evaluation.