Does my 78 year old mom have a medical malpractice case?

Asked 12 months ago - Phoenix, AZ

My 78 yr old mother had lower back pain, she walked just fine, lived independently and had a job. Her doctor suggested a laminectomy w/ spinal fusion. She had the surgery and during the procedure he nicked the dura that protected the spinal cord and she leaked CSF for several months afterward, 4 additional procedures were performed to stop the leak, she also suffered many side effects from the multiple procedures and now will never walk again. Later the surgeon admitted that she was not a good candidate for the surgery because of her weight it made it difficult for him to see into the cavity and her other underlying medical issues. He said he would never do another surgery like that again. He said he didn't detect the nick during the procedure because of her size and his limited visibility

Attorney answers (9)

  1. Mishka L Marshall

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    Answered . I am so sorry for your mother. Please see a local medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. There is a 2 year statute of limitations in Arizona, so don't delay in seeking an attorney. You can search for attorneys on the websites of the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, and the American Association for Justice. Good luck.

  2. Richard D. Lyons

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    Answered . As others have said, you need to consult with a local medical malpractice attorney. Ultimately, what the surgeon told you probably won't matter because either he'll deny saying it, or he'll argue that you misinterpreted what he did say. Medical malpractice cases are proven by the medical records and other circumstances underlying the care your mother received, and how expert witnesses interpret those records and circumstances. By what you've written, your mother's case certainly warrants a thorough investigation by a medical malpractice attorney.

  3. Christian K. Lassen II

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    Answered . Have a local malpractice lawyer order the medical records to investigate. Avvo has a terrific "find a lawyer" tool to find a top-rated Avvo lawyer with a low contingency fee.

  4. Michael R Varble, Esq.

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    Answered . It sounds like a viable malpractice claim. I would take her medical chart to a consultation with a local malpractice attorney at your earliest convenience and let him or her review it and have her chart reviewed by another doctor. Good luck with it.

    The information provided herein is for informational purposes and should not be construed to establish an attorney... more
  5. David Herman Hirsch

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    Answered . A forum such as this is really very limited when it comes to any attorney being able to give you a substantive response. Medical malpractice cases are expensive to pursue, difficult to prove and highly technical in nature, since you need experts to establish what the standard of care is and that it was breached in some fashion. You need to have a medical malpractice attorney get the files and have them reviewed by a physician to determine if professional negligence occurred and if you have any recourse. Use the Find a Lawyer tab on Avvo to find one in your area. Best of luck to you...

    THESE COMMENTS MUST NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. Comments made on websites such as Avvo.com are provided for information purposes only, and you should not base a decision to act or refrain from acting based upon this answer. The only way to determine how the law may apply to your particular situation is to consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation. . That relationship is established by the execution of a written agreement for legal services. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference.

  6. Samuel Cohen

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    Answered . Contact an attorney who handles medical malpractice cases. The records will have to be reviewed.

    The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. I am... more
  7. David Ian Schoen

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    Answered . Sounds like a viable claim. In my opinion, if he could not safely visualize what he was doing, he had no business doing it. Consult with a local experienced medical malpractice attorney.

  8. C. Donald Briggs III

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    Answered . These cases are very fact specific and require the intense review of medical records. Consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. There may be a case here.

  9. Peter J Bartinik

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    Answered . The answer will be likely yes but difficult to win but should be brought. First the surgery has to be questioned because the 78 yr old Mother was only experiencing back pain but was walking just fine and living independently. Would like to see the diagnostic tests such as the MRI or the Ct scans to understand why a fusion was considered appropriate. There should have been no good reason why the surgeon could not see into the operative laminectomy opening if the entry incision was proper. Having said that the Mother was not a good candidate for surgery, the question of informed consent needs to be considered, along with the so called "other underlying medical issues" which need to be considered. Finally what is important it should be noted that when the dura is "nicked" does not necessarily mean that malpractice occurred, If there is a leak and the surgeon is aware of the leak then it should be closed to prevent the leak from becoming infected. Although the surgeon attempted to close the leak 4 times it was not closed and likely caused the many side affects and kept her from walking. Assuming the diagnostic testing supports a recommendation for Laminectomy and fusion then the questions that remain is whether or not failure to close a small nick in the dura failed because there was significant delay in treating a CSF leak which should have been closed before the leak reached the skin . Finally it could be malpractice to do a fusion and laminectomy when a person is not considered to be a good candidate for surgery without a thorough informed consent. Do i think you have a malpractice case? Yes i do but i need more information such as diagnosis and the cause of her current ability to walk and the amount of time has past after the First surgery before the leak was closed as i am assuming that the leak had been closed but it took 4 surgeries.

    I am not providing legal advice so do not in anyway rely on this answer

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