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Botched surgery was not advised. Medical records incorrect & x-rays destroyed before Wisconsin's 5 year required time. Help

Sauk City, WI |

Husband had a botched surgery, x-rays talked about during surgery & at follow-up are gone. Failure of hardware implanted 4 years 8 months. New surgeons didn't understand what happened during botched surgery. Medical records are extremely vague & incorrect, x-ray gone (WI's law says must keep for 5 years).
The hospital failed on 3 occasions to explain, compensate & apologize.
What can I do? Lawyers say time limit - hard to prove I didn't know. Hospital won't be honest or help. Live with a broken peice of hardware against a nerve & vein... was told if in accident can bleed out or be paralized. HELP!

Attorney Answers 2


I'm sorry you've suffered this circumstance. This case seems difficult to prove, however I'd be willing to take a shot at it if you sent me an email.

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Here are the facts of my husband's botched surgery: 1. he broke his back in 1989, had surgery and had to find a less physical career 2. his back worsen and finally an mri showed it. 3. back so bad couldn't move, went to er... finally seen a neurosurgeon a week or so later... had a second surgery in Nov 2000 4. 2nd surgery was to be a "clean up" of disc and scar material - last 3 hours. 4 hrs into surgery the neurosurgeon cheif of staff (who've neither my husband or I met or knew was involved in the surgery) called me in the waiting room, said things are worse than though & wanted to implant 2 rods & 6 screws & a bone stimulator for fusing 5. after 9 hours in or, my husband was in the icu - all bloated and green tinged. The surgeons never talked to me. He kept saying the top of his head (the crown) hurt, felt like he was dropped on his head... the doctor later said it was a compression test done in the or that caused the head pain, but wouldn't explain what a compression test was. 6. my husband ran a real high temperature over next few days, I kept arriving earlier & earlier (530am towards the end) to see the surgeon and always "just missed him" and I stayed to midnight to 1am... The nurse said she couldn't understand why they wouldn't give my husband that last bag of blood (he gave 2 bags of blood weeks before surgery in case). Finally his temp went down, he stopped being green, and the doc just pumped him full of oxycodin every 3 hours 40 to 60 mg (at least that's what we came home with). 7. my husband came home in a turtle shell brace, I cared for him and weened him down the pain meds... 3 weeks later he was actually "with it" 8. nurse removed staples a week plus after the surgery 9. follow up with surgeon... x-rays were done, he met us in the hall way, held up the x-rays to the ceiling light and said "all looks good" and literlly a 2 minute appointment in the hallway. 10. life went on - bone stimulator removed 1 1/2 years later ... healing - etc... 11. August 2005 back went out so bad, literally crawled into er... long story short... needed another surgery. ... the neurosurgeon and 2 other surgeons sat my husband & me down, said they looked at his 2000 records and cannot understand what went on... we told them what I've told you... they said one screw broke & fusing never happened. They were going to remove the hardware - they did. They said the hardware had a 25% failure (never were told that in 2000), said no idea how it broke & why not fused. 12. after he healed up, we started researching to see what happened, why were we not told of things, why were the 3 surgeons so perplexed. first the broken screw... it was screwed through the vatebral body, it's tip is against a nerve and the iliac vein (still is after the hardware was removed for fear of bleeding out or paralysis on the table). My husband & I've built many things, screws don't screw in further through anything, especially when a rod prevents it (as a washer would) from doing so. No explanation from surgeons, doctors, anyone of how that happened -- only logical conclusion is installed incorrectly. second the fusing... he was given high doses of nsaids after surgery which prevent or hinder fusing. 13. I only recently (about 4 weeks ago) got the surgical notes, FINALLY... his age is wrong in the surgical notes from 2000, the x-rays spoken of that were taken during surgery & at follow up are gone... the records guy said it was destroyed during the computeriziation of images... but by law they had to keep them 5 years, his 2005 surgery was done in october of 2005, they decided he needed surgery in end of august or early september 2005 (either way, all less than 5 years from 2000's x-rays). The 2005 surgeons said the only thing they could find at all was the vague surgical notes from 2000... no images, no other notes... Everytime I get more of my husband's records I find more things wrong, either stuff like his age is wrong (no big deal, just worrisome) to nothing about "compression test" in the 2000 surgery, x-rays disapea


Apparently you have already spoken to some lawyers and they have told you the case looks very tough, maybe impossible to prove. Medical malpractice cases require proof of substandard care causing an injury. There is an injury, but the other pieces of the puzzle seem to be missing. In certain very limited circumstances, failure to maintain records can work against a defendnat, but there has to be some proof of fault independent of the records before that rule applies. The best advice I can give your husband is to try to find good medical help for the broken hardware. I am not giving medical advice, but If the old broken hardware is removed, that could provide some clues as to what went wrong. Make sure the removed hardware is not discarded or the problems of proof will just get worse.

Any opinions stated in response to Avvo questions are based upon the facts stated in the question. Responses to Avvo questions are for general information purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice.

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