Failure to Diagnose
$7,400,000.00 settlement on behalf of a 60 year old woman who became paralyzed in
both legs and one arm after her doctors failed to diagnose an infection in her spine.
This 60 year old lady called her doctor complaining of a stiff neck. He prescribed
muscle relaxants without seeing her. A few days later she went to his office because the
medicine upset her stomach, so much she couldn’t take it. He examined her and gave
her a different muscle relaxant. The following week, the pain in her neck was worse and
he sent her to a doctor specializing in physical therapy. He ordered an MRI on the first
visit. The MRI showed there could be an infection, and the radiologist recommended
certain blood tests. Even though the blood tests showed the possibility of infection in the
spine, he sent her back to her general practice doctor with a recommendation that she be
referred to a Rheumatologist.
The Rheumatologist did more blood tests and eliminated any rheumatologic disease
as the cause of her pain. Then, the rheumatologist referred her to an orthopedist. The
orthopedist didn’t do any tests, but decided her pain wasn’t caused by an infection and
gave her steroids (the worse thing to do if it’s an infection) for the neck pains. The pain
got so bad that her husband brought her to an emergency room of a local hospital. At
the hospital, she complained of a new finding, numbness in her hands. Since she was
under the active care of an orthopedist, the nurse called the orthopedist’s office and
was told to give pain killers and more steroids and send her home. The next day, the
rheumatologist’s office gave her yet another injection of pain killers and sent her home.
The pain got so bad that 3 days after the emergency room visit, her husband took her to a
different hospital where they diagnosed the infection and operated on her, but it was too
late to save her legs and one arm, and they are paralyzed.