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Negligent Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant Lawsuit

Malpractice lawsuits involving spinal cord stimulators typically arise when patients experience adverse effects or complications from these devices, which are used to manage chronic pain.

Spinal cord stimulators are implanted devices that send electrical pulses to the spinal cord to interfere with the nerve signals that cause pain.

While often effective, inherent risks and potential complications are associated with their use, some of which can lead to malpractice claims.

Word of Caution About Spinal Cord Stimulator Lawsuits

Before we look at the types of potential spinal cord stimulator lawsuits for malpractice, let us give you a word of warning if you are looking to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit.  These are difficult claims.  Most of the calls we get are from people who have spinal cord stimulator horror stories because these surgeries are not always successful, and it can be very painful when they are unsuccessful.

Five Types of Lawsuits

There are five main types of spinal cord stimulator malpractice lawsuits:

  1. Negligence in Implantation: Improper device implantation is a common ground for malpractice suits. This could include errors during surgery, such as damaging nerves or other structures in the spine, leading to increased pain, paralysis, or other serious complications.
  2. Never Should Have in the First Place: Many of the best spinal cord stimulator malpractice lawsuits are cases where the surgery goes south, but it was medical negligence even to perform the surgery on that patient in the first place.
  3. Failure to Warn or Informed Consent: Physicians must inform patients about the risks and benefits of the spinal cord stimulator and alternative treatments. If a patient is not adequately informed and experiences an adverse outcome, it can be a viable claim that they did not give informed consent for the procedure.
  4. Inadequate Follow-up Care: Adequate follow-up care is crucial after implantation. Failure to manage complications, adjust settings, or address patient concerns effectively can lead to worsened conditions and is often medical negligence for any surgery.
  5. Infection and Other Complications: If an infection occurs due to the surgery and it’s not managed correctly, or if other complications are mishandled, this could be seen as a failure in the standard of care. But infection cases are really difficult in a hospital setting.  They are winnable, but challenging.  The best cases are not the infection itself but the failure to treat it.

Example Spinal Stimulator Malpractice Lawsuits

Earley v. Monocacy Surgery Center

This medical malpractice claim was filed in Frederick County, alleging that a spinal cord stimulator was unnecessarily and negligently implanted in a man’s spine, causing permanent leg paralysis.

Summary of Plaintiff’s Allegations

A 64-year-old man presented to the Monocacy Surgery Center for a spinal cord stimulator (SCS) placement in an attempt to curb his severe back pain. The man had already been evaluated and treated by a doctor at Pain and Spine Specialists of Maryland.

The doctor did a trial with a percutaneous spine stimulator and then referred him for a permanent implant. Unfortunately, the doctor’s recommendation was negligent, and the man was not a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulation implant.

After the implantation, the man experienced unbearable postoperative pain. He spoke with the on-call orthopedist, who suggested that he take additional medication. The orthopedist should have been more concerned and advised him to go to the hospital for an MRI.

Still in pain several days later, the man went to Frederick Memorial Hospital. He was able to walk, but he was developing a progressive loss of sensation and function in his legs. Hospital staff determined that the man was suffering from an epidural hematoma in the thoracic area of his spine, right where the SCS had been placed. A hematoma (a collection of blood) is a rare complication of implantation, which can be indicative of poor surgical technique.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit arguing that the hematoma that was compressing his spinal cord went undetected after surgery. Due to both negligent surgery and delayed diagnosis, an injury that could have been cured has become permanent. This man is now essentially a paraplegic with no bowel or bladder control and a severe loss of sensation from his chest down.

Additional Comments

  • A spinal cord stimulation (SCS) implant delivers a constant low-voltage electrical current to the spinal cord to block the sensation of chronic pain. Patients considering SCS must meet specific criteria, including a minimum of six months of poor response to more conservative treatment options.
  • A spinal epidural hematoma is a collection of blood in the epidural space of the spinal column that causes spinal cord compression
  • According to the claimant’s expert witness, a neurological surgeon, if the on-call orthopedist sent the man to the hospital after he called to complain about postoperative pain, his condition could have been diagnosed and treated before his neurologic symptoms set in. The inappropriate surgical technique used during the implantation operation caused the spinal damage. Still, the man’s injury shifted from a treatable condition to a permanent injury due to the delay in postoperative treatment.
  • Like any surgery, SCS implantation has risks. Because the man allegedly had no demonstrable medical need for SCS, he was unnecessarily and inappropriately exposed to the risks of surgery. Even if the implantation was justifiable, plaintiffs’ lawyers argue, the SCS was not placed in the area of the man’s spine that was associated with his complaints.
  • Plaintiff’s attorneys will likely argue that the surgeon had an obligation, given the plaintiff’s level of pain after the placement of a spinal cord stimulator, to order a radiographic evaluation of the spine like an MRI or a CT myelogram to determine the cause of the patient’s pain. Had they done so, the patient would have gotten more immediate surgery to evacuate the hematoma and decompress the spinal cord before the patient lost function.
  • The settlement value of a spinal cord stimulation implantation medical malpractice case will depend on the severity of the injury and the strength of the liability case against the doctor.  You can see high settlement amounts in cases like this because the injuries are awful.  So this case would seem to have a high settlement value if the claim against the doctors could be proven.  But this case was apparently dismissed because the plaintiff did not provide an expert certificate as required by Maryland law.
  • Over the years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings and recalls for certain Medtronic spinal stimulator models. These actions often stem from reports of device failure, battery issues, or other malfunctions. Such FDA actions typically lead to an increase in litigation, as they can be used to support claims that a device is inherently faulty or dangerous.Medtronic continues to face lawsuits concerning its spinal cord stimulators. These often involve allegations of product defects, insufficient warning of risks, and negligence in the design, manufacturing, and marketing of the devices. Our law firm is not handling these claims against Medtronic


  • Frederick County


  • A pain management and spine specialist
  • Two orthopedic surgeons
  • Monocacy Surgery Center
  • Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute
  • Pain and Spine Specialists of Maryland, LLC
  • Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute, a division of Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, LLC
  • Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, LLC
  • Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics Foundation, Inc.

Hospitals Where Patient was Treated

  • Frederick Memorial Hospital


  • Failing to correctly interpret the results of the spinal cord stimulator trial.
  • Failing to place the spinal cord stimulator in the correct location.
  • Failing to perform a thorough neurological examination or take a complete medical history.
  • Failing to timely assess and treat the claimant’s neurological deficit when he first presented to Frederick Memorial Hospital.
  • Failing to appreciate the seriousness of the claimant’s postoperative pain.

Specific Counts Pled

  • As a direct result of the defendants’ negligence, the claimant suffered painful and permanent physical and emotional injuries, incurred medical expenses, and lost his job.
  • Loss of Consortium – The claimant’s wife suffered emotional pain and the loss of her husband’s companionship as a result of the defendants’ negligence.

Plaintiff’s Experts and Areas of Specialty

  • Gary Lustgarten, M.D., Neurologic, Orthopedic, and Spinal Surgery

Getting a Lawyer for Your Malpractice Claim

Have you suffered a hospital injury due to the negligence of a doctor? Miller & Zois can help you. Call us at 800-553-8082 and speak to one of our medical malpractice attorneys who can help you or get an online case review.

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