The plaintiff, then 62 years old, presented to the emergency room in July 2013 at an outside hospital after sustaining a fall at her home and complaining of neck pain, She was ambulatory when she arrived at the hospital. She was transferred the same day to the defendant hospital due to a small left-sided brain bleed and had a normal motor exam upon arrival. Over the next four days, she developed focal neurological symptoms on her left side, and function in her arms and legs deteriorated from normal to complete quadriplegia, yet the attending neurosurgeon did not investigate why her movement and strength was worse on the left than the right nor the reason for her ultimate inability to use all four extremities.
As demonstrated on a CT scan taken on the day of her admission and a CT angiogram of the brain done two days later, the plaintiff’s condition resulted from an epidural hematoma at C2-C4 exerting mass effect on the spinal cord along with a disc spur complex compressing the cord at C5-C6. Despite the clinical evidence, the neurosurgeon failed to diagnose the cause; in fact, the diagnosis was determined from an MRI of the cervical spine ordered not by the defendant neurosurgeon, but by a critical care physician six days after the plaintiff’s admission to the hospital and after she progressed to complete quadraplegia. By that time, however, the plaintiff had no chance of regaining neurological function.
Because of the neurosurgeon and the radiologist’s medical malpractice, the plaintiff suffers from permanent spastic quadriparesis. She has total paralysis of her legs, no functional use of her right arm and hand, limited functional use of her left arm, and very limited use of her left hand. The plaintiff resides in a nursing home and will need 24/7 care for the rest of her life.
The plaintiff claimed that, had the defendant neurosurgeon performed surgery to relieve the compressive forces on the spinal cord in the first three days of her hospitalization, she would have regained function in her arms and legs and could have returned to independence and the normal activities of daily living.