Spinal surgery is dangerous for a lot of reasons, but primarily because the surgeon is handling sensitive nerves that are complex. The spinal cord contains the nervous tissue that’s comprised of gray and white matter across different regions. A successful surgery requires more than just an understanding of anatomy, it requires skill and expertise to achieve the desired outcomes.

Certain diseases and a spinal cord injury affect the central nervous system, which can impact the entire spine or any of the four regions, which are the thoracic, lumbar, cervical and sacral regions. When these areas are affected, you can experience loss of function that is either permanent or temporary, depending on the location and the severity. In severe cases, paralysis can occur.

As it relates to the anatomy of the body, the nervous system is protected by the skull as protection of the brain is critical when it comes to ensuring proper functioning of the body. In other words, the primary function of the skull is to protect the brain, thereby protecting the nervous system. Without the protection of the skull, your brain is left vulnerable, especially during traumatic events. Similarly, the spinal cord is protected by vertebrae, which includes the nerves.

The spinal cord extends from the base of your brain to the midsection of your back and below your waist, measuring approximately 18 inches. The spinal cord is a critical part of your anatomy because it provides a way for your brain and body to communicate. In fact, the spinal cord carries messages through the body regarding movement of your limbs and sensations that are felt throughout the body.

If you open up the spinal cord, you’ll find spinal nerve cells that serve as a carrier of messages between the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. Another key aspect of this communication center is the openings that are found in the vertebrae, which enable messaging from the spinal nerves. Given the sensitivity of this intricate system, it’s imperative that medical personnel adhere to best practices to protect patients.

In a case involving Central DuPage Hospital located in Cook County, Illinois, a neurosurgeon conducted a decompressive cervical laminectomy. In this case, pain medication was administered to the patient and the plan of care required hospital staff to notify the doctor in the event that the patient experienced neurological changes or a drop in blood pressure below 90/60. While things appeared to be in order for the first couple of days, the situation changed on the third day.

Although the patient was alert, he did experience some pain and had difficulty sleeping. As a result of the pain, additional medication was prescribed by a pain management specialist. This was in response to the patient’s ongoing complaint of pain after the surgery. Subsequently, the patient was able to sleep to the point that he could not be awaken by the physical therapist at a later time in the day. On the same day, the patient’s blood pressure when from 158/62 to 90/46, which is a significant drop, especially when it occurs on the same day.

It was reported that the patient was awaken, but fell back to sleep. A nurse took the patient’s blood pressure later that day, only to find that it had dropped again to 64/44. It was at this point that a doctor was called and they were able to stabilize the patient’s blood pressure. Unfortunately, by the time this happened the patient was unable to move his legs or arms. Subsequent to these events, the patient was found to be an incomplete C-4 quadriplegic.

When this case went to trial, the defendants were the hospital, nursing staff, and neurologist. The argument of the defendants was that the spinal cord injury was not developed because of dangerously low blood pressure, but instead occurred in the laminectomy area. They contested that the condition was unpredictable, rare and untreatable because of how the spinal cord is compressed and receives increased blood flow that’s relieved by surgical laminectomy, which is known as reperfusion.

This is just one of many examples that demonstrate the sensitive nature of a spinal cord procedure. The potential results of an error can be severe and even life-threatening. It’s not just what occurs during the actual surgery, but the actions of medical personnel after the surgery is completed. In the above case, the patient ended up requiring around the clock medical care and medical expenses that were estimated to total millions of dollars of the course of his life.

If you or a loved one has experienced a serious injury as a result of a spinal cord surgery, contact Zayed Law Offices to speak with an experienced lawyer that is acquainted with medical malpractice. They have the knowledge required to obtain the justice you and your family deserve.