A botched spinal surgery that left a 56-year-old woman with a life-altering spinal cord injury was deemed medical malpractice by a New York jury that awarded her nearly $56 million in compensation. Patricia Jones had surgery to alleviate pain and tingling in her arms, hand, and neck, but during what was supposed to be minor surgery a piece of bone became embedded in the protective covering of her spinal cord, leaving her a quadriplegic.
Mrs. Jones endured her spinal cord injury while undergoing a common procedure known as a laminectomy while in the care of Dr. George Alexander Jones and Dr. Daniel Spitzer. According to testimony presented during the trial, a test conducted during the procedure indicated that Mrs. Jones’ spinal cord had been injured, yet both physicians stated that there were no adverse events and proceeded with the surgery.
Jury Hears That Spinal Cord Injury Incurred During Procedure Left Woman Paralyzed
Though most people have a certain level of anxiety in anticipation of back surgery, few dream that they could suffer a spinal cord injury as significant as the one that Patricia Jones endured. As her attorney explained to the jury, “On August 18th, 2009, Patricia Jones walked into Good Samaritan Hospital. What she didn’t know is that those would be the last steps that she would ever take. What she didn’t know is that surgeons, who were operating on her neck, would find out that her cords had been damaged through monitors during the procedure. And what she now knows is they didn’t tell anybody that.”
The impact of the surgical mistakes was not detected until the day after the spinal cord injury took place. Mrs. Jones’ blood pressure dropped precipitously, and her movement was impacted, but it wasn’t until a Cat scan was conducted that healthcare practitioners were able to identify the cause for her paralysis. The scan revealed that she had suffered an epidural hematoma, but those reading the scans did not identify what they saw as such. Instead, they told her that her spinal cord had suffered a stroke. Had the hematoma been properly diagnosed, it could have been removed and her paralysis cured. Since then she has been in a wheelchair. The jury awarded her $20 million for her pain and suffering and the balance of the $56 million for lost earnings, medical expenses, and other costs. Her husband was also awarded an additional $10 million.