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  1. #1
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    Oct 2006
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    TX
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    Default Spinal surgery

    Hello, I am writing to inquire about a few things. Kind of a long story but I'll summarize.

    In early 2001, my father went to a neurologist to find out about his muscle fascillations(involuntary spasms) all throughout his arms. This was an ongoing problem but it got really bad around this time. He notified our family physician years before but she ignored the problem.
    The neurologist called for an MRI which revealed that he had alot of compression on his spinal cord in the C3-C6(neck) area. The neurologist then referred him to a neurosurgeon who looked at the results and affirmed the neurologist's conclusion. He also added that it was very serious, it was like a 'bruise on the spinal cord' and said, "if he did not go in for surgery immediately he may become paralyzed neck down". We tried to get a 2nd opinion and he said there is no time for that and it was very serious. So he decided to have the surgery in July of 2001.
    Orginally the surgeon told us what he was going to do before the surgery, but in the middle of the surgery had to change some procedures and take another course of action. We only knew about this after the surgery. So he came out and it was a success according to the surgeon. He came back okay but of course somethings had changed, like he wasnt suppose to pick up heavy objects and no sudden neck movements since there was a metal plate inserted. The intensity of the fascillations also went down. For about a year he was 'normal'.
    After a year passed, in late 2002 we started noticing signs of muscle degeneration and lack of coordination in his arms and hands. At this point, it all started going downhill. He began to lose alot of weight and muscle mass in his arms and shoulders. He also began to lose coordination in his hands and the ability to do daily tasks. At first, he couldnt pick up more then 10lbs, then it went down to 5 lbs, then no weight at all. Eventually he couldnt even lift his own hands. This all took place in a period of 3 years from 2002 to 2005.
    In summer of 2004, was the last time he drove a car. In late 2004, he lost all use of his arms. Today he cannot do anything, we have to help him from getting dressed to feeding him, etc.
    Since 2003 we have been going to Muscle Dystrophy/ALS( Lou Gehrigs) clinic and they cannot confirm that he has ALS. We have been to many doctors and they are all puzzled.

    So my questions are:
    1.Does it look like a case of malpractice?
    2.What are the typical time stipulations?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    984

    Default Re: spinal surgery

    How old is your father?
    Does he smoke?
    Has he been back to the neurologist or had any rehabiliation?
    Is he on any medications?
    Does he fall? Syncope? pre/syncope?
    What is his blood pressure?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Ohio
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    1,094

    Default Re: spinal surgery

    Quote Quoting mna1213
    View Post
    Hello, I am writing to inquire about a few things. Kind of a long story but I'll summarize.

    In early 2001, my father went to a neurologist to find out about his muscle fascillations(involuntary spasms) all throughout his arms. This was an ongoing problem but it got really bad around this time. He notified our family physician years before but she ignored the problem.
    The neurologist called for an MRI which revealed that he had alot of compression on his spinal cord in the C3-C6(neck) area. The neurologist then referred him to a neurosurgeon who looked at the results and affirmed the neurologist's conclusion. He also added that it was very serious, it was like a 'bruise on the spinal cord' and said, "if he did not go in for surgery immediately he may become paralyzed neck down". We tried to get a 2nd opinion and he said there is no time for that and it was very serious. So he decided to have the surgery in July of 2001.
    Orginally the surgeon told us what he was going to do before the surgery, but in the middle of the surgery had to change some procedures and take another course of action. We only knew about this after the surgery. So he came out and it was a success according to the surgeon. He came back okay but of course somethings had changed, like he wasnt suppose to pick up heavy objects and no sudden neck movements since there was a metal plate inserted. The intensity of the fascillations also went down. For about a year he was 'normal'.
    After a year passed, in late 2002 we started noticing signs of muscle degeneration and lack of coordination in his arms and hands. At this point, it all started going downhill. He began to lose alot of weight and muscle mass in his arms and shoulders. He also began to lose coordination in his hands and the ability to do daily tasks. At first, he couldnt pick up more then 10lbs, then it went down to 5 lbs, then no weight at all. Eventually he couldnt even lift his own hands. This all took place in a period of 3 years from 2002 to 2005.
    In summer of 2004, was the last time he drove a car. In late 2004, he lost all use of his arms. Today he cannot do anything, we have to help him from getting dressed to feeding him, etc.
    Since 2003 we have been going to Muscle Dystrophy/ALS( Lou Gehrigs) clinic and they cannot confirm that he has ALS. We have been to many doctors and they are all puzzled.

    So my questions are:
    1.Does it look like a case of malpractice?
    2.What are the typical time stipulations?
    This website might be helpful to understand limitations for malpractice in Texas:

    http://www.mcandl.com/texas.html

    Your question about medical malpractice for a claim against your father's surgeon is past sol. Assuming that is the malpractice concern that you have. You wonder if he had ALS at the time of his spinal surgery? And you think he had ALS and not degenerative arthritis of the spine?

    But the period of time from that surgery and his medical history should be discussed with medical person that you believe you can trust. There are many details of his medical history that need to be considered in a malpractice claim. There are medical professionals to help you sort that out.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: spinal surgery

    Quote Quoting rmet4nzkx
    View Post
    How old is your father?
    Does he smoke?
    Has he been back to the neurologist or had any rehabiliation?
    Is he on any medications?
    Does he fall? Syncope? pre/syncope?
    What is his blood pressure?
    -He is 54 years old.
    -No he does not smoke or drink and never did]
    -He has been back to the neurologist but its been quite some time, insurance company gives him a hard time sometimes. But he's been through a number of different treatments, including aquatic therapy, massaging and he's even been overseas for herbal treaments.
    -He's not taking any serious medicines.
    - He does not fall down.
    -B/P ill find out but its usually normal

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: spinal surgery

    Quote Quoting deadlock
    View Post
    This website might be helpful to understand limitations for malpractice in Texas:

    http://www.mcandl.com/texas.html

    Your question about medical malpractice for a claim against your father's surgeon is past sol. Assuming that is the malpractice concern that you have. You wonder if he had ALS at the time of his spinal surgery? And you think he had ALS and not degenerative arthritis of the spine?

    But the period of time from that surgery and his medical history should be discussed with medical person that you believe you can trust. There are many details of his medical history that need to be considered in a malpractice claim. There are medical professionals to help you sort that out.
    Actually we have been going to these clinics offered by the MDA(muscular dystrophy assoc) since I believe 2002. They have not been able to confirm that he does have ALS or degenerative arthritis. I understand that alot of time has passed. But that is due to the fact that doctors were unable to confirm the status of my father's condition. We have never had any history of spinal defects or anything of that nature in our family. He didnt have a job that required him to exert lots of pressure on his back, etc. My father was a healthy, capable man before the surgery, only complaint he had was the involuntary muscle twitching in his arms. He still had the muscle, strength and coordination like a normal person. It was only after the surgery that his health deteriorated. The surgeon put us in such a situation, like "do or die".

    To my understanding there's a 2 yr window after the event to file a claim, but I've also heard its 2 or 3 yrs after confirmation that the injury or damage was a result of the surgery is that true?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Ohio
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    Default Re: spinal surgery

    http://www.mcandl.com/texas.html
    Statutes of Limitations

    No medical malpractice action may be brought more than two years from the date of the breach or tort or from the completion of treatment. Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 4590i, 10.01 (West Supp. 1998). If an injury results from a negligent course of treatment, rather than a specific instance of negligence, the limitations period begins on the last date of treatment, but if the precise date of the breach or tort is ascertainable, the limitations period begins on that date. Bala v. Maxwell, 909 S.W.2d 889 (Tex. 1995). If the period begins before a claimant has reached the age of eighteen, however, an action may be brought at any time until the claimant's twentieth birthday. Weiner v. Wasson, 900 S.W.2d 316 (Tex. 1995) (holding unconstitutional that part of the statute extending time for minors under twelve only until their fourteenth birthdays). Recent case law holds that the foregoing medical malpractice statute of limitations, not the wrongful death statute of limitations, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 16.003(b) (West 1986), applies to claims brought for malpractice resulting in death. Bala v. Maxwell, 909 S.W.2d 889 (Tex. 1995).

    The Supreme Court has made it clear in recent cases that under 10.01 an action does not accrue at the time of discovery and that the discovery rule formerly applied by the courts has been revoked. However, it has granted that in certain cases (not including death cases) application of 10.01 to bar a claim before it could reasonably be discovered would be unconstitutional because it would unreasonably deprive a plaintiff of the opportunity to exercise a well-recognized common law right. See Diaz v. Westphal, 941 S.W.2d 96 (Tex. 1997); Baptist Memorial Hospital System v. Arredondo, 922 S.W.2d 120 (Tex. 1996).
    Actually we have been going to these clinics offered by the MDA(muscular dystrophy assoc) since I believe 2002. They have not been able to confirm that he does have ALS or degenerative arthritis.
    So I am understanding that you still don't know what his medical diagnosis is?

    involuntary muscle twitching in his arms. He still had the muscle, strength and coordination like a normal person. It was only after the surgery that his health deteriorated.


    And this leads me to believe you think he did not have a medical condition that would support need for surgery.

    I an attempt to help you know about his surgery in relation to a potential medical malpractice claim I am suggesting that you obtain his records from the surgeon who did the laminectomy and fusion and all hospital records.

    These records should include X-rays, CTs, MRI and the operative reports (operative dictated note and the actual handwritten operative notes by the circulating nurse); also, the date of the last time he was treated by the surgeon for his postop course.

    Then you need to obtain all history and physical eXams by any neurologist, neurosurgeon, orthopedic physician, and all clinic notes following the surgery again including all diagnostic evaluations, tests and radiology reports.

    I suggest that before you approach a medmal atty, that you have 2-3 appointments with specialists in the field of neurological disorders. It is worth a trip out of the geographic areas where the physicians who treated your father practice medicine. A University where they do neuro research is a great place to start and then ask for other references.

    A medical malpractice attorney cannot tell you if the case is a viable case without an evaluation and/or opinion of an eXpert in that field.

    It is a lot of work and costly to consider a claim of medical negligence. I hope that you are able to find out what the diagnosis is and get treatment.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    California
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    1,206

    Default Re: Spinal surgery

    I am a retired clinical/surgical consultant and think I have a pretty good idea regarding the surgical portion of your story. He most likely had an 'anterior cervical discectomy'.... a very common procedure which has been performed sucessfully in the U.S. since the early 1950's. While it's often very effective, it's not to be taken lightly and only done when alternative treatments (traction, specific exercises, epidural steroid injections, etc.) either aren't inidcated or aren't effective.

    Any invasion of the intrathecal space by surgical intervention should never be taken lightly. Complications can occur and there are no guarantees....I feel certain he was informed of this and no doubt signed a statement to that effect. One problem, which is often insidious, is that the fused vertebrae cause additional stress on the adjacent levels...and cause additional problems either above/below the fusion. I have no way of knowing any of the particulars in his case but I imagine proving malpractice would be a very difficult thing to do. That's simply a guess...but that's usually the way such cases turn out. As far as whether surgery was indicated, in the first place....that's not nearly as easy to determine as it might seem to be.

  8. #8
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    Ohio
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    Default Re: Spinal surgery

    Quote Quoting chuckycheese
    View Post
    I am a retired clinical/surgical consultant and think I have a pretty good idea regarding the surgical portion of your story. He most likely had an 'anterior cervical discectomy'.... a very common procedure which has been performed sucessfully in the U.S. since the early 1950's. While it's often very effective, it's not to be taken lightly and only done when alternative treatments (traction, specific exercises, epidural steroid injections, etc.) either aren't inidcated or aren't effective.

    Any invasion of the intrathecal space by surgical intervention should never be taken lightly. Complications can occur and there are no guarantees....I feel certain he was informed of this and no doubt signed a statement to that effect. One problem, which is often insidious, is that the fused vertebrae cause additional stress on the adjacent levels...and cause additional problems either above/below the fusion. I have no way of knowing any of the particulars in his case but I imagine proving malpractice would be a very difficult thing to do. That's simply a guess...but that's usually the way such cases turn out. As far as whether surgery was indicated, in the first place....that's not nearly as easy to determine as it might seem to be.
    Chuck, if the clinic physicians haven't provided a diagnosis do think you can?

    And the last time I heard if you don't have diagnositic support of a clinical diagnosis, it's a pretty sure bet you ain't gonna get reimbursed. Where are they doing surgery these days without a pre and post op diagnosis?

  9. #9
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    Mar 2005
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    Michigan
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    28,906

    Default Re: Spinal surgery

    Please note that malpractice laws in Texas have changed significantly since the article linked above was written.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Spinal surgery

    Quote Quoting aaron
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    Please note that malpractice laws in Texas have changed significantly since the article linked above was written.
    Thank you.

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