$1.7 Million Recovery for Woman with Spinal Infection

Eisenberg, Rothweiler attorneys, Kenneth Rothweiler and Brian Hall have reached a $1.7 million settlement for a woman in her late seventies who entered a local emergency room complaining of severe pain in her lower back. The emergency room doctor admitted the woman and diagnosed her with an infection with a referral to an infectious disease doctor. The specialist confirmed an infection of the spinal column and ordered a MRI to confirm his diagnosis. An infection of the spinal column is extremely dangerous if not diagnosed and treated within a few hours. Swelling can put pressure on the spinal cord which can result in severe and permanent neurological damage to the patient. Despite knowing this the doctor did not expedite the MRI.

The doctor’s orders were misinterpreted by two hospital employees and rather than clarify with the doctor what was written on the chart, which is standard procedure, the patient was sent to radiology for a plain x-ray. X-rays are ineffective in showing an infection and were read as normal. When the doctor re-examined the patient, he noticed that an MRI had not been performed. Instead of following procedure and contacting radiology to have one performed STAT (right away), he asked that his patient be placed on the MRI list. Later that day another doctor examined the patient and noticed that an MRI had still not been performed but also did not order one STAT.

When the MRI was finally conducted, four days after entering the emergency room, and two days after one was prescribed, an infection was discovered on the patient’s spine which was placing significant pressure on her spinal column. The radiologist immediately informed the nurse, who informed the doctor, but it was too late. The patient lost feeling and motor function in both legs. Neurology was contacted immediately and surgery scheduled. The surgery was successful in removing the mass and decompressing the spinal cord but the patient did not regain neurological function in her legs.

Kenneth Rothweiler and Brian Hall handled this case and claimed the hospital was negligent and responsible for the injuries suffered by their client. Before being admitted to the emergency room she lived a healthy and independent life in a two story apartment. She is now paralyzed from the hip down; leaving her completely dependent on others for care. She has been forced to move from her apartment to a nursing home and will have to live there for the next ten to fifteen years.