Hematoma Misdiagnosis Lawsuit

Skinner v. Shore Health System, Inc.

MRI This is a failure to diagnose a hematoma lawsuit filed on behalf of a man in Talbot County, Maryland. It was filed on March 3rd and is the 106th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland in 2017.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

An adult male has a T10 vertebral biopsy and a kyphoplasty at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center. Kyphoplasty is a procedure to treat a spinal compression fracture, usually a fracture caused by osteoporosis. The surgery is preferred of decompression surgery when possible because it is minimally invasive. This is an outpatient procedure. The surgeon discharges him home.

A few hours after getting home, the man's pain increases and he goes to the emergency room. He is admitted to the hospital. Within four days, he has paresthesia in his legs. His gait worsens, and an MRI reveals an epidural bulging bone at the T10 level. These results in severe stenosis and deviation of his spinal cord.

A day later, defendant reads the MRI to show no bulge but soft tissue swelling and possible fluid collection. Defendant anticipates this will resolve with time, despite the worsening gait dysfunction. He is transferred to the rehabilitation unit.

Due to his persisting complaints of gait dysfunction, another MRI is done. This time, defendant reports that it reveals an epidural hematoma with significant cord compression. He recommends a decompressive laminectomy and evacuation of the hematoma.

The man has the surgery done. After, he is a paraplegic and is confined to a wheelchair. Less than two years later, he dies as a result of complications of his immobility and medical conditions.

Additional Comments
  • Plaintiff's argument is that there was a three-day window that began with the first MRI where a reasonably prudent surgeon would have performed decompression surgery because the films showed significant stenosis and compression. Had that surgery been done immediately, the rationale of the case goes, plaintiff would not have been paralyzed. Defendants are going fight this case on negligence and causation. The doctors will argue that they were in a Catch-22 because they thought surgery was risky and they reasonably believed that the fluid collection they saw on the MRI would resolve on its own. Just because they were wrong, they will argue, does not mean it was the wrong choice at the time the decision was made.
  • Defendants will also make a causation argument that the die was already cast and the man was likely to be paralyzed no matter when the surgery occurred. Does this somewhat contradict the negligence argument? Sure. But this has never stopped malpractice defense lawyers in the past.
  • This claim is just a survival action. Plaintiff is not claiming the negligence caused his death although you have to think was quite possibly a contributing cause. The cap on noneconomic damages in 2014 when this injury occurred was $740,000. You would think there were some significant economic damages during the two years that he lived after this happened that would money available over the pain and suffering cap.
  • This case was filed one month before the statute of limitations.
Jurisdiction
  • Talbot County
Defendants
  • A neurosurgeon
  • Chesapeake Neurological Surgery, LLC
  • Shore Health System, Inc. - University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton
Hospitals Where Patient Was Treated
  • University of Maryland Shore Medical Center
Negligence
  • Failure to appreciate patient's worsening neurologic symptoms after the kyphoplasty
  • Failure to properly interpret the first MRI as showing an epidural hematoma
  • Believing the fluid collection on the MRI would resolve without intervention
  • Failure to appreciate the patient's worsening neurologic symptoms after an MRI
  • Failure to timely diagnose and treat patient's epidural hematoma
Specific Counts Pled
  • Wrongful Death
  • Survival Action
Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • Terry Lichtor, M.D. - licensed to practice in Illinois, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. He is board certified in neurological surgery; associated with Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and Provident Hospital of Cook County
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