When undergoing spinal surgery, you should feel confident and reassured in the safe hands of your medical team. Unfortunately though, mistakes do happen, and this can mean that you are left in a considerably more difficult physical, and emotional state, following surgery. When spinal surgery goes wrong, our experienced legal team can help you navigate the challenging waters of your recovery. At Fletchers, we are specialists in spinal surgery claims, and understand the complex nature of these difficult legal cases – guiding you through the process towards the financial compensation you deserve.
Types of spinal surgery claims we take on
- Substandard technique: Claims that involve a substandard surgical technique or procedure, which results in a worsening of your symptoms.
- Inadequate anaesthetic monitoring/technique: These claims can involve inadequate monitoring of blood pressure during the surgical procedure, such as allowing your blood pressure to drop too low and in essence causes a ‘stroke’ to occur in the spinal cord due to a lack of blood flow.
- Severe spinal injuries: One example of which is a condition called Cauda Equina Syndrome.
- Diagnostic failure: Failure to diagnose and treat a fracture in the neck or back. This could be due to a failure to pick up the injury on an Xray, or through a failure to Xray entirely. This means that the fracture is left untreated and causes further, and often irreparable, injury to the spinal cord. It is important to note that these injuries can be caused initially by a serious impact such as a road traffic accident, which may have caused temporary suffering if an Xray was sought in the first instance. Failure to Xray means that the injury likely becomes more serious through general movement, which can cause the vertebrae to damage the spinal cord.
- Failure to adequately monitor during hospitalisation: Various complications can arise following spinal surgery requiring prompt medical attention and treatment. If there is inadequate monitoring of your condition whilst in hospital, it could lead to a deterioration in your condition and a worse outcome.
- Unnecessary surgery due to an incorrect diagnosis of back pain: Having surgery when you may not have required it.
- Delays in surgery: Waiting too long to perform surgery can sometimes lead to the spinal cord damage becoming irreversible.
- Sepsis: Complications due to sepsis can cause a spinal injury in a number of ways.
- Failure to diagnose an infection. In these cases, the spinal surgery is often completed without issue. However, following surgery, infections can develop. If these infections are not spotted and diagnosed quickly, the infection can cover the spinal cord and, in rare cases, cause paralysis.
- Failure to admit to hospital when antibiotics are needed: Similar issues can be caused as in the above example.
- Failure to refer to surgical team when prompt treatment is needed: Similar issues can be caused as in the above example.
When spinal surgery becomes negligent
Patients can unfortunately come up against spinal surgery negligence at various stages of the journey. This may be during pre-operative checks, during the surgery itself, or whilst under the aftercare team. Here we outline some of the most common incidents of negligence that spinal surgery patients may face. However, it is important to note that if you have undergone spinal surgery and you are left in a worse physical condition than before the procedure, then your condition can be investigated and any errors fairly compensated for.
- Poor post-operative treatment. This might include the incorrect prescription, or lack of antibiotics. It may also mean an inadequate follow-up review. Sometimes there can be failures with nursing aftercare.
- Surgery itself can be negligent. The surgeon could make a mistake during the operation, and may not know this until the patient is reviewed at a later date.
- Negligence during surgery can also mean:
- The wrong equipment is used
- The surgeon used the wrong technique
- In cases of complex surgery, frequently another expert can be required in the operating room, or as part of the wider team. When there is a failure to involve a multi-disciplinary team, this can sometimes mean the condition of the patient is compromised. Complex spinal surgery sometimes requires the involvement of a specialist supporting field; such as a radiologist, who reviews the imaging before and after surgery. Sometimes there are failures in the reporting of the radiological images.
- In one case for example, a surgeon applied a spinal screw too tightly. The patient did report discomfort following the surgery but this was not investigated, and the patient then developed a condition called ‘chronic footdrop’ due to the nerve being impacted by the spinal screw. The patient should have had an MRI to investigate the issue, and the screw might then have been revised and loosened which would have prevented irreversible complications.
How you might be affected by negligence relating to spinal surgery
Complications of spinal surgery often means that patients are left in a worse physical state than before the surgery, which can be incredibly difficult to come to terms with. If you have suffered a poor outcome following spinal surgery, you may be faced with any of the following medical complications:
- Paralysis (complete or incomplete paralysis)
- Neurological dysfunction, or a worsening of mobility
- Requiring a walking aid and/or wheelchair
- Sexual dysfunction
- Worsening of pain
- Chronic nerve damage
How our legal team can offer support
At Fletchers, we understand the complex nature of a severe spinal injury. We also understand that the impacts of such can be life altering; affecting you not just physically, but emotionally and financially too. The implications of recovering from medical negligence, particularly when this negligence is related to a spinal injury, are far-reaching. But we have supported many patients just like you, and are able to offer not just legal support – but practical help and advice along the way.