Malpractice Trends for Spinal Membrane Tears After Back Surgery

Back pain sufferers in Connecticut sometimes turn to back surgery for relief. The procedures frequently result in incidental durotomy, which describes small tears on the membrane of the spinal cord. These tears sometimes prompt patients to file malpractice claims. A review of three legal databases revealed differences among cases that were decided in favor of the surgeon and those that benefited the patient.

A slight majority of cases, 56 percent, reached verdicts that did not hold the defendants accountable for alleged medical injuries. Most of these cases did not involve plaintiffs who had neurological complications that caused weakness or brain damage.

Among the 44 percent of cases that affirmed the plaintiffs’ complaints, the back surgery patients usually needed another surgery to repair the membrane tears. Repair surgeries that failed occurred in 73 percent of cases that ruled in favor of patients. The delay of diagnosis and treatment represented another large factor favoring an outcome that compensated patients. For those who received compensation, the average settlement amounted to $2.8 million. Men had a greater chance of winning a malpractice case than women.

A surgical error can have long-term consequences for a person. When someone believes that medical providers failed to meet the accepted standards of care, an attorney might look into the possibility of a malpractice claim. Compensation may include payment of additional medical expense and recovery of lost income. An independent physician might be brought in to examine the person’s medical records and provide testimony for the lawsuit. After organizing information about the harm inflicted on the person, an attorney may file court papers and approach the medical provider with a request for a settlement. Negotiations might result in a settlement offer. Otherwise, an attorney may be able to prepare the case for presentation to a jury.