I am a 65 year old woman who has been healthy and active all my life. In 2003, some collapsed disks and severe back pain led to a spinal fusion at L4 and L5. It was done at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail Colorado AND was a complete success, measured by decreased pain and increased activity. By 2008, I had moved to New Hampshire and symptoms began anew. A spine surgeon in Concord said I need another fusion. Immediately post-surgery I had bizarre symptoms - a feeling of "laying on golf balls". The surgeon did an xray and reported to me and my family he was very sorry, he found he had "neglected" (his word) to connect the hardware. He offered to fix it immediately, then inexplicably changed his mind and discharged me with loose, moving, protruding hardware. I was given no instructions or cautions. Two weeks later I collapsed and was readmitted. I had two transfusions rather rapidly, then blew spinal fluid into my brain and was blind for two months. During the year that followed, my spine fused incorrectly without hardware to guide it, and I became deformed loosing 5 inches of height and almost all mobility. Many fine surgeons turned me away when I asked for help because it was too risky, for me and them. I finally found my "MD angel" at Dartmouth Hitchcock who returned me to "upright" giving me some quality of life back.NOW HERE IS MY QUESTION FOR YOU: Although I have never sued anyone in my life, I have filed suit against this surgeon. My medical bills caused my home to be seized and auctioned leaving me homeless and I have no husband to lean on. THERE IS ONE THING THAT MAY CAUSE ME TO LOOSE THIS CASE, AND ONLY ONE. I cannot find ONE doctor willing to give me the "expert testimony" that NH requires, because doctors will not say a word against another doctor (you know what I mean). I cannot afford the thousands of dollars the "PROFESSIONAL" expert testimony doctors want just to review records. I NEED YOUR ADVICE. Have you ever been asked by a patient for this? What are the words I can use to convince a doctor to help me? HELP??! Thank you - blessings.
research online; attorneys who will not pay the money for the professionals
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Hi there. I'm sorry you are still having a problem with your back despite having had surgery. I am an Orthopedic Surgeon and would like to help answer your questions. Please understand that the information that I provide is for educational and informational purposes and is not treatment or meant to substitute for being treated by a live physician. I get online once a day and therefore please bear with me if you post and I haven't responded yet. I will in do time. Please do not accept until you have had your question answered in a satisfactory fashion.So you are suing the surgeon in NH that did the second surgery because he did not connect the hardware during the surgery? The best person to provide information would be the surgeon at Dartmouth who did the revision surgery and fixed the problem. His clinic notes would describe your presenting problem and his operative notes would describe what he found at the time of the surgery to fix you. Other surgeons could provide testimony but they would simply be giving their opinion on notes and xrays, rather than being able to say anything as the treating physician.In general it is difficult for physicians to agree to be involved in litigation against other physicians. The most important reason is that in medicine your reputation is all that you have - you work 30 years to become a surgeon and treat everyone the best you can - it takes a lifetime to build your reputation and it can easily be shattered by one mishap. Getting involved in a lawsuit against someone else in the community is an easy way to ruin your reputation among the medical community. Although he is your physician you have to understand that you are one among thousands of his patients and helping you would be great for you but would damage his livelihood and his career.With that being said, I think your story is compelling and basically it sounds like you believe that this surgical error by the second surgeon cost you your home and almost your life by collasping and being temporarily blind. The only thing that gets to most people is a compassionate plea for help and letting them know your situation. Most people believe that litigation against doctors are by greedy patients who are upset. I think letting any physician you approach know your situation and the horror this all has caused you would be your best chance.I think one other thing you might do is to see the surgeon who fixed you and ask if he would be willing to let you tape record his thoughts on the matter. I have been asked to do that by patients and I have agreed before.I hope I was able to answer your question in a satisfactory fashion. I know it is probably not the answers that you want to hear but I am just being honest. Thanks.
Actually, I VERY much respect and appreciate your honest answer! It's worth waiting for!
Believe it, or not, I actually have little difficulty putting myself in a physician's shoes in these matters. I would give anything to not have to do this. I think people are far too quick to sue, in general, without a care for how it ruins someone's reputation and livlihood. I condemn our litigous society and I have never sued anyone before. In my case, my particular spine surgeon was successfully sued by a patient for 2.5 million dollars two years ago - a young man who went in to have a ruptured disk repaired and ended up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The atty who represented the patient said his phone rang off the hook with calls from other (potentially) injured patients of this same spine surgeon, but my case is the one with the clearest case of liability. To sum it up, this doctor is hurting people and he needs to retire,
The "angel MD" who did the repair surgery said he would testify to what he saw; what he did, but cannot confer blame BY USING THE SURGEON'S NAME, because Dartmouth Hitchcock does not allow it's doctor's to give "expert testimony". BUT, he practically begged to be subpeonaed!! He photographed my entire fourteen hour surgery and used it as a teaching tool with Dartmouth Medical School students, as I was a case they were not likely to see again.(5 rods plus two curved rods anchoring my spine by bolting to each hip bone)
BUT HERE IS MY LAST QUESTION FOR YOU, DOCTOR: My case is less focused on the fact that he admittedly "neglected" to connect the hardware (although that fact is what caused my personal Hell) .... and instead mostly focused on the fact that he first gave me two choices, while I was only four days post-op,1) stay in hospital and be repaired, or 2) be discharged and discuss it later. My family and I decided on immediate surgical repair. The next AM my surgeon walked into my room and said, "Before you say anything, Barbara, I have made a decision. You will be discharged tomorrow." The end. No explanation. No discussion of the issues and cautions of living with loose, BULGING, moving hardware. It protruded from my back badly, clearly visible through clothes. MY QUESTION TO YOU is, in your opinion, would you discharge a patient of yours in that condition? I realize there are some variables, but "generally speaking"? Thank you so much for your time and thoughtful answers. I am grateful.
Hi there. In my opinion I would discharge a patient in that condition if after I consulted with her that we jointly agreed that the surgery to re-fix her was not urgent or if she wanted to recuperate at home prior to re-fixing her. Generally speaking I would never for a patient to be discharged if she was not ready for it or if her medical stability did not allow it or if her situation at home was not safe. Where I practice medicine, hospital discharges are a team decision that involves a case manager, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc. I cannot just discharge a patient when I want to, every member of the team must agree or sign off that the patient can go home. The last thing the hospital wants is the patient to go home prematurely and to have an accident or not do well because he/she needs more acute care.In your situation you say that you and your family agreed on immediate surgery but it sounds like he forced you to be discharged. I don't think most surgeons would do this unless they really wanted to disregard their patients wishes. I don't think it is really a matter of what a surgeon would or wouldn't do. I think it is pretty common sense for anybody to know what the right thing is. Good luck to you.