Malpractice Case in Prince George's County Involving MILD Back Surgery

Clay v. National Pain and Spine Centers

(Filed January 13, 2016)

JurisdictionDefendants
  1. National Spine & Pain Centers, LLC (NSPC)
  2. Dimensions Healthcare System d/b/a Laurel Regional Medical Center
  3. The treating NSPC doctor
Hospitals Where Patient TreatedSummary Of Plaintiff's Allegations

A Howard County man with a history of back complaints seeks treatment from a doctor who is board-certified in pain management and anesthesiology. The doctor suggests selective nerve root injections into Plaintiff's lower back. Plaintiff undergoes several of these injections. Plaintiff experiences no complications from any of the injections, and each injection is successful in significantly relieving his pain.

Still, the doctor recommends surgery. The procedure is a minimally invasive lumbar decompression (MILD). As the name suggests, the surgery is typically relatively low risk, although it seems odd that the doctor would recommend surgery given the patient's success with more conservative treatment.

There is no record of an informed consent indicating the risks of the procedure. Even more disconcerting is the operative report indicating that the procedure is performed at a different level than the intraoperative film showed.

Following the procedure, Plaintiff is unable to stand. Plaintiff is transferred to a tertiary care center and is diagnosed with cauda equine syndrome- a rare disorder involving nerve roots in the lower spine, usually a surgical emergency. Subsequently, Plaintiff develops urinary and fecal incontinence.

Plaintiff files a medical malpractice lawsuit in Prince George's County alleging that Laurel Regional Medical Center and its doctor violated the standard of care by (1) recommending that the surgery be performed when Plaintiff was obtaining significant relief from epidural injections, (2) failing to obtain proper consent from Plaintiff, (3) failing to perform the procedure at the intended and proper level of the spine, and (4) puncturing the dura (outermost membrane surrounding the spinal cord) during the procedure.

As a result of the Defendants' negligence, Plaintiff developed cauda equine syndrome, has undergone corrective surgery, had trouble walking, and experienced bladder and bowel incontinence. Plaintiff has incurred surgical, medical, rehabilitative, and other related expenses.

Negligence
  • Surgical ProcedureRecommending that the surgery be performed
  • Failing to provide informed consent to Plaintiff on surgical procedure
  • Failing to perform procedure at intended and proper level of the spine
  • Puncturing the dura (outermost membrane surrounding the spinal cord) during the procedure
Specific Counts Pled
  1. Medical malpractice against Dimensions Healthcare System d/b/a Laurel Regional Medical Center the doctor and National Pain and Spine Centers.
Additional Comments
  • The Defendants will argue that these were known risks of the procedure, but if there really was informed consent and the doctor performed the procedure at the wrong level, Plaintiff has a strong liability case.
  • The causation hill may be the greater challenge for the Plaintiff's malpractice attorneys. After corrective surgery, all of his symptoms have resolved except for his back pain which was significant enough to undergo the procedure in the first place. The expert report filed with the Complaint does not thin slice the extent to which this permanent injury is causally related to the malpractice. This will be key to the value of the claim.
  • The claims against Laurel Regional Hospital may not survive. They are based the doctor's failure to obtain informed consent, "approving" an "experiential procedure", and allowing non-medical staff in the operating room.
Plaintiff's Experts And Areas Of Specialty
  • Lawrence M. Kamhi: a New York-based interventional pain management specialist who does not appear to have an extensive history as an expert witness.
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