Medical Malpractice/Spinal Fusion


I had 2 back surgeries in October and November of 2010, the second was a spinal fusion. The first surgery, I was still unable to straighten my back so then he did the second. Immediately after the second I woke with pain in my leg that was not there before the surgery. I couldn't put my heel down and couldn't put weight down on leg. I had gastric bypass around 2003 and had a hard time absorbing pills. I either wouldn't absorb any of the pills or very little of them. The meds the surgeon was giving me for pain wasn't helping so after a while of trying different meds I asked the back surgeon to talk to my gastric bypass doctor and see if he had any suggestions. After he talked to gastric bypass doctor, the back surgeon referred me to pain management. After the second surgery I had started having bowl incontinence. I called the back surgeon about it and he didn't seem to care so I didn't bother mentioning it to him again. I was falling allot in the weeks afterwards because I couldn't walk on my leg. I didn't have a walker or cane to help. On my first visit to the back surgeon after the second surgery, a lady coming out of the clinic saw my struggles to walk and went in a got me a wheel chair and if saved me allot of painful steps and possible falls. I continued using their wheel chair because it was easier. The surgeon prescribed me a cane but that was useless to me. My husband found me a walker with wheels on it that I began to use. I used it as a crutch so not to have to use my bad leg. While at home, I went to the bathroom and on the way back from bathroom, my good leg slipped out from under me and I could catch myself with my bad leg and I fell straight back with the walker landing on top of me. That is when I received my concussion and fractured a bone near my tail bone. I tried to get up and walk to my bed but the room was spinning and tilting and I couldn't seem to go anywhere but away from the bed and fell again and hit the bone in between my eye and temple. When my husband got back home, he found me on the floor and picked me up and put me on the bed. I had passed out on the floor. He said I had been out for almost 2 hours. I called the back surgeon to tell him about that and his nurse gets back on the line and said " The doctor says there is nothing more he could do for me", so I just quit calling. I went to ER 6 days after my fall because I was having headaches and double vision. They did a scan on my back but they didn't scan low enough. They said I had a cerebral concussion. On my first visit to the pain management doctor. I ended up back in a wheel chair. I was in total agony. The pain management doctor was in the same building as the back surgeon. When you go through the doors, The check in desk was to the left as was the back surgeon. To the right was the pain management side. On my first visit to pain management, My husband had went to get a wheel chair since we found out they had them during a previous visit to the back surgeon. I couldn't sit right and had to sit mostly on my right hip. On the pain management side of the clinic, there are no windows in the doors to see in the lobby and there was about four different pain management doctors. With back surgeons on the right side of clinic and pain management doctors on the left side of clinic, there is no way to see through windowless doors and and know which people are there to see the surgeon and which ones are to see pain management much less, when you are seeing a patient for the first time know which one is a new patient. When the nurse called me back to the exam room, she held the door open for my husband to wheel me back there. When we got to the exam room the nurse said she couldn't help me out of the wheel chair onto the bed because she had surgery on her shoulder and was still healing so my husband helped me. Then they wanted to do a drug test so my husband helped to back into the wheelchair and the nurse held the lobby door open for us and when I was done with that the nurse held the lobby door open again for us to go back to the exam room. The pain management doctor ordered and MRI for the knot I had on the bone near my tailbone. The results were that I had fractured the bone. On my 3ard visit with pain management doctor, I caught the doctor lying to me so when I got home I kept thing about it and it really bothered me. I called and asked for all my records from the surgeon and pain management doctor. The pain management doctor had lied in my records. On my very first appointment, The pain management doctor said he saw me walk into the clinic and get a wheelchair and when I was called back I got out of the wheelchair and walked back to the exam room. That was an out right lie and what doctor stands around in the lobby to see who is doing what? There was no doctor in the lobby when I was there and I'm pretty sure no doctor can see through doors or walls so I'm not sure why he said that but he made sure he made me look as bad as possible in my records. He said things that were never said in my visits with him. I told him I had a problem absorbing pills so prescribed me pain patches and pills for break through. I asked him to talk to my gastric bypass doctor, thinking he didn't understand the problem I had. He wouldn't talk to him. When I asked for liquid break through medicine, He raised his voice to me and refused to give me liquid and when the pills didn't show up on drug test he would accuse me of stuff. In April of 2001, the pain management doctor handed me a paper and it said the would no longer be accepting my insurance and I had 8 weeks to find another doctor. My primary care doctor said she was comfortable with taking over my pain management and she changed my patch dosage and prescribed me and prescribed me the liquid break through medicine which was working much better. On the next visit to pain management I took the new meds with me and told him I wouldn't be coming back because My regular doctor was going to treat me. This was in June of 2011. I did not take a drug test on that last day because I was only there to let him know I have another doctor now. I didn't ask for any meds or anything. He put in my records that he tested me and I tested positive for the liquid pain med and got it from another doctor and made it sound like I broke the contract. He never said in my records that he gave me a paper stating I had 8 weeks to find another doctor. I still have that paper though. There were so many lies. I lost my insurance in October of 2011 and couldn't afford to get any other insurance so I couldn't go to doctors any more. I live in an upstairs apartment and I had been stuck here for months at a time because it is too hard to go up and down the stairs. I found out about charity care and now have that and just started seeing a regular doctor. She sent me to a pain management doctor that accepts charity care. I'm pretty sure that what is in my records affects the care I receive. I know what was in my records that I got copies of but don't know what is in the records that are being sent to other doctors but I know my copies are full of lies. I have been walking messed up since November of 2010 and it has taking a toll on my feel. They are now messed up. Since that spinal fusion, immediately after I lost sensation on the surface of my thighs, an unrelenting pain in my left leg, loss of bowel control, and now pain in my right leg, now pain in the bones in both feet, both feet,all toes on both feet so cold all the time to the point of pain. I am so terrified of doctors not. I just seen my regular doctor for the second time. Each time my stomach was in knots and I am terrified to talk about much of anything. When I think about that horrible experience with that pain management doctor, my stomach is in knots my heart races and I am having to force myself to go to doctors but feel like a nervous wreck. No matter how I try to deal with that fear, it will not go away. With one of my visits with that awful doctor, while I had the concussion and seeing double, He told me I needed to read my pain management contract again and I told him I couldn't because I was seeing double. He turned and looked at me so hatefully and said "That is your Problem". After all of that I felt like I didn't matter and felt so helpless. How could I fight what he put in my records. I believe doctors look at that and don't want to deal with me. What does a person do. I feel a prisoner in my own home. I only leave my apartment for appointments. It is months in between appointments so I am stuck at home. It has affected my marriage and my life in such a negative way. Is there anything I can do?

If your question is "do I have any legal recourse for everything I have gone through since 2010", the answer is, most likely, NO.  Considering all of the pain and suffering you have endured any lawyer, any person, would want nothing more than to help you and to improve your quality of life and yes, obtain compensation for you and some recompense for all of that pain and suffering.  However, here are the problems: (1)  Even though you have had a terrible medical course since the fusion, you only have legal recourse if there is strong and clear evidence that you surgeon, the hospital or other care  provider did something very very wrong and this wrong thing was the reason for you not having a good recovery and living a good life since 2010.  I like to explain it this way:  Imagine 10 of the best ortho/neuorsurgeons in the World looking into every detail of your case and especially what surgery done and exactly how it was done.  In order to have a malpractice case, no lawyer is going to take it on unless at least 7 or 8 of those experts would agree to say something like this:  "My God, what was Sabrina's surgeon thinking? The type of surgery performed was clearly not indicated and even likely to cause her more serious problems or, the surgery was appropriate but the surgeon did something or failed to do something in the surgery that was very wrong, done incorrectly etc. etc. and no reasonably competent surgeon would have done so.  Sabrina's surgeon was clearly negligent in performing the surgery the way he did and that negligence is the cause of her failing to improve".  

If a lawyer were interested in your case, he would have to hire medical experts at great expense to study your entire medical record in order to come up with an opinion as to whether there was negligence or not.  There would probably be a 80% chance that the expert would say something like this:  "It is unfortunate that the surgeries were unsuccessful but everything was done WITHIN THE STANDARD OF CARE and there was no negligence.  It was a very difficult case and the no guarantee that there would be a good result even if everything was done in the correct manner.  Therefore, notwithstanding the poor result, there is no malpractice apparent." Because this is the likely opinion of experts on the subject and because there is no malpractice case with expert opinion saying there was negligence, it is extremely unlikely that any lawfirm would spend thousands and thousands of $$ to take on this case.

Furthermore,if you did sue, the defendant doctors would be defended by a big lawfirm being paid big money by the doctor's insurance company to defend that case and after 1-2 years of litigation and your lawyers having to spend probably $50,000 or a lot more out of their pocket, they would be unlikely to have even a 50/50 chance of getting their investment of big money and hundreds of hours of work paid back, let alone make a big fee on the case.

(2)  Your case is way to complicated.  You have seen many health care professionals and you have had multiple medical issues.  In order to have a viable case we would have to locate one particular provider that caused all of these problems.  If it was the fusion surgeon, what exactly did he do wrong?  We don't know that and as stated, what lawyer is going to spend probably 10,000 right away for a surgeon to study the matter?

(3) Here is the other big problem whether there was provable negligence or not:  Whatever State the surgery took place in, the Statute of Limitations would at most be 3 years.  Most states have a time limit of 1 or 2 years.  There are several possible exceptions but if the negligence that caused all your problems was in 2010, any case no matter how valid, could not proceed.  I do not know the the law in your State but you can look up the rules regarding medical malpractice and the Statute of Limitation for med mal by going to google.

(4) all of the poor interactions with medical providers, the bad beside manners of the providers, the seeming lack of concern for you, etc. etc. is and of itself nothing of which a malpractice case could be made.

I am sorry Sabrina but I do not have any solutions for you.  Keep in mind that I have made a living suing medical providers for negligence.  I am on your side and if I saw any point in any lawfirm taking your case, I would say so.  Nevertheless, I am not the last word on the subject.  You should research the Statute of Limitations and consult with a large lawfirm in your area but you should have all of your medical records in hand.  The lawyers are unlikely to spend the time and money to get the records without having more information in advance.  Best of luck

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Glenn A. Dorfman


Thirty-four years experience in personal injury, medical malpractice and medical product liability law. Qualified to answer all questions regarding injuries and the law, except for worker`s compensation. Also wide experience in medical product defect cases ie current litigation regarding the Johnson&Johnson (DePuy)defective hip implant cases and Mirena IUD issues


Thirty-four years experience handling cases involving auto accidents, trips and fall, fires, dog bite,medical malpractice and defective medical product cases with particular emphasis in 2012 and beyond with the DePuy ASR (Johnson&Johnson) defective hip implant cases. Twenty-five years of experience with defective IUD issues as well

Jurisdoctor Degree 1976 and Member in good standing with CA State Bar Assoc. since 1976

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