Spinal Tumor Surgery Results in Paralysis

Michael Talve, CEO

Written by
— Updated on December 12, 2016

This case involves a 51-year-old male with no significant past medical history, who presented with a newly discovered ependymal tumor of the spine. The lesion was described to be at the level of T-3 spine and was first discovered by MRI imaging. The patient states that his first symptoms involved lower back pain, numbness, and tingling of the left extremity with an associated left foot drop. The patient also reported several episodes of impotence and incontinence. The patient underwent spinal surgery and experienced several post-op complications with the most devastating being paralysis. The patient is currently non-ambulatory and bound to a wheelchair.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • The questions posed from the attorney are whether the surgeons should have gone ahead with this type of high-risk spinal surgery, whether the risk to benefit ratio was properly explained to the patient and if all alternative measures were taken before exposing this patient to a potentially life-altering procedure. In addition, was there a delay in treatment or failure to recognize the lesion in a timely manner that may have altered this patient’s outcome? Furthermore, the attorney is looking for a physician that is experienced with cases such as this to review the charts and determine whether or not the proper protocol was carried out in the best interests of the patient.

Expert Witness Response E-000572

The primary role of health care providers is to present patients with all possible options and explain the full risk to benefit ratios of the procedures performed. Informed consent is at the heart of the doctor-patient relationship and should supersede all decision-making processes. In this case, it seems as if the physicians were overzealous in their attempts to salvage a situation that was beyond their reach.

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