How Can Medical Malpractice Result in a Spinal Cord Injury
In a medical setting, an act of negligence by a healthcare provider can easily lead to a spinal cord injury. Here are a few examples of how patients commonly suffer this type of preventable harm.
Negligent Emergency Care
Many emergency rooms (ERs) are understaffed or full of overworked staff, which can increase the risk of a medical error. Medical errors such as misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can contribute to a spinal cord injury or the further aggravation of one. For example, if you were transported to the ER after a car accident and the doctor failed to recognize a spine fracture or dislocation and immobilize the spine, head, and neck, they can cause further harm.
Surgery is very invasive, and any mistake can be catastrophic. If a surgeon makes an error during a back or spinal surgery, it can result in permanent paralysis. Most of the time, these spinal surgery errors are preventable and caused by the reckless, careless, and negligent mistakes of a healthcare provider. For example, driving holes for hardware at the wrong angle or carelessly scraping an injured disc.
The anesthesiologist and their team can also cause a spinal cord injury during a procedure or surgery. They are responsible for making sure a patient remains asleep during a procedure and receives oxygen. If they fail and a patient’s brain is deprived of oxygen, it can cause damage to parts of the brain that control muscle movement, resulting in paralysis. Additionally, when local anesthesia is administered, it is possible for an anesthesiologist, doctor, or dentist to cause nerve damage that can result in partial or complete paralysis.
Chiropractors use physical manipulation of the spine to ease pain and increase mobility, but it is not without risk. Improper manipulation can lead to severe spinal cord injuries, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or dissection of a vertebral artery accompanied by a stroke.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
Some of the common symptoms that suggest a spinal cord injury include:
- Loss of movement (paralysis)
- Loss of or tingling sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Exaggerated muscle movement or spasms
- Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity, and fertility
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation (indicating nerve damage along the spinal cord)
- Stiff neck, headache, or back pain
- Balance issues
A spinal cord injury can be life-threatening. Emergency symptoms include the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty balancing or walking
- Lack of alertness (semi-consciousness or unconsciousness)
- Oddly positioned or twisted neck or back
- Shock (pale skin, bluish lips, and fingernails)
Legal Options After a Spinal Cord Injury From Medical Malpractice
Any patient who suffers a spinal cord injury due to a healthcare provider’s negligence has the right to file a medical malpractice claim. To hold a provider responsible requires proof that their negligence directly led to your injury. As a result, your injury could have been prevented, and you suffered damages (e.g., medical bills, lost income, pain, suffering, etc.). If you believe your spinal cord injury was caused by medical malpractice, it is critical to speak to an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you pursue a claim and hold the wrongful party accountable.