An incidental durotomy is an unintentional small tear or puncture to the dura matter, which is the outer membrane that covers the spinal cord. These occur somewhat frequently during spinal surgical procedures, although they do not usually cause any long-term problems or permanent damage if the tear is recognized and repaired quickly. However, if a durotomy is detected too late, causing severe injuries, a medical malpractice claim can be pursued.
According to a new study conducted by researchers at Brown University, while common, durotomies are not without serious risk. The research team identified 48 resolved malpractice cases that involved incidental durotomies, analyzing the outcome of each case, and the factors that lead to the decision. Of the 48 patients involved in the malpractice cases, 24 were men and 24 were women, all of whom were an average of 55 years old. Allegations against the physicians included a delayed diagnosis, treatment, and improper repair, as well as the need for additional surgery because of the durotomy. The injuries involved in the cases studied included weakness, paralysis, brain damage, and fatality.
After analyzing the malpractice cases studied, researchers found the following statistics:
Approximately 56 percent of the cases ruled in favor of the physician or surgeon
The remaining cases, or 44 percent, were either settled or ruled in favor of the patient
The average payment amount was $2.8 million
Male patients were more likely to obtain a favorable outcome
The factors that were more likely to result in a favorable outcome for the patients included an alleged delay in diagnosis, treatment, or an improper repair of the tear
The results of the study are significant because it helps to clarify the potential legal issues associated with a durotomy-related malpractice case. Although it is a very common, and sometimes unavoidable, occurrence in spinal surgeries, surgeons should not consider it a harmless event. In fact, a surgeon is more likely to reach a favorable outcome in a malpractice case if the tear is treated seriously and is promptly repaired. If the durotomy goes unrecognized by the surgeon and the injury becomes more severe, or life-threatening, the decision is likely to be ruled in favor of the patient. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can examine your case and recommend the best legal course of action.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Medical Negligence
If you have been injured during a spinal procedure and you believe you were the victim of medical negligence, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve and will continue to fight for you until justice has been served. For a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
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