What can I do about my failed back surgery.

Asked over 2 years ago - Decatur, GA

I had a laminectomy/spinal at L3-L4 on 10/26/11. I am in PT now. The pain that I went in for is now gone from my right hip and leg but I can't bend without shooting pain in my lower left back now. The doctor refuses to treat me anymore, he says that he doesn't know where my pain is coming from. Is there anything legally that I can do?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Marc Sean Hurd

    Contributor Level 16

    4

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    1

    Answered . You can ask for a second opinion as to possible further treatment. I certainly understand your situation, as I know that back problems are a major health issue, and I can sympathize with you.

    The problem is that a laminectomy is a very serious surgery, and what you are experiencing MAY be a result that wasn't totally unexpected. You phrase your question as a malpractice case, but to prove malpractice, you have to (a) show that the surgeon "messed up" (i.e. that his treatment fell/falls below the standard of care; and (b) that the negligence (falling below the std. of care) caused your current problems. To prove (a) you need an expert in the same specialty to say that the 1st doctor's care fell below the standard of care. Then, for the "(b) part" you have to show that had the doctor done all that was required under that standard of care, you would have had a different result. That's where these cases often fall apart. The defense usually argues the legal equivalent of "no harm, no foul" meaning that the doctor, even if he screwed up, your result is the same as if he hadn't. Going back to the top of this answer, that surgery you went through is a very serious one, which is not always successful, even with the most skilled surgeons, so what you are going through may still be something that was a foreseeable result.

    The bottom line is that the answer to your question isn't an easy one and requires a great deal of expertise to properly evaluate, both medically and legally, and you should consult with a lawyer who specializes in malpractice cases and have all your records reviewed by the proper medical expert. I certainly empathize with you, but these kinds of issues need to be addressed professionally, and in greater detail than this forum can provide.

    Good luck to you!

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  2. Joseph Jonathan Brophy

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I would briefly add to Mr. Hurd's excellent answer that a significant proportion of spinal operations fail to relieve pain, or even make it worse. That doesn't mean that they were done wrong, it's just a fact, and study after study confirms it. In addition, the risk of failure rises with each surgery. There is a significant body of medical opinion, especially outside the US, that spinal surgery should not be done just to relieve pain. You won't ever find a respectable expert who will testify that it's malpractice to operate for that reason, though, because probably the majority of spinal surgeons operate to relieve pain all the time. For these reasons, medical malpractice lawyers are especially cautious about undertaking lawsuits based on failed spinal surgery.

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  3. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You are asking whether there was malpractice with respect to your back surgery. Pain or a bad result doesn't necessarily mean there was malpractice. The only way to find out if there was malpractice is to have a malpractice lawyer order the medical records and send them to an expert physician to review them to ascertain whether or not there was a breach of the standard of care.

    Licensed in Pennsylvania & New Jersey & Serving the Nation. Only 29% Fee Deducted. 1-877-258-3083. www.... more

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