Man Suffers from Permanent Paraplegia as a Result of Undiagnosed Epidural Hematoma

Michels & Lew represented a 57-year-old man who sustained permanent paraplegia due to physicians’ failure to properly diagnose and treat an epidural hematoma, an epidural hematoma, an accumulation of blood that can occur in the spinal canal.

The plaintiff, who had previously undergone an aortic heart valve replacement and was on medication to prevent strokes, was admitted to the hospital with severe back pain. He was placed under the care of an internal medicine specialist who noted that the plaintiff’s regular medication should only be administered upon completion of a test to determine if he had any clotting abnormalities. Despite these explicit orders, the medication continued to be administered to the plaintiff prior to completion of the test, which eventually indicated an abnormally high risk for internal bleeding. A CT scan was also ordered, and was interpreted as normal by the hospital’s attending radiologist.

The plaintiff’s condition began to deteriorate, with continued pain, decreased sensation and motor function, and incidents of incontinence noted in his medical reports. Once the pain and weakness in both of the plaintiff’s legs reached a severe state, a CT myelogram revealed an epidural hematoma in the lumbar spine, necessitating plasma transfusions and emergency surgery. Had the patient been properly monitored for bleeding problems as per the attending physician’s written instructions, or had the CT scan been properly interpreted, it is probable that his condition would have been treatable. Unfortunately, as a direct result of this negligence, the plaintiff suffers from permanent paraplegia with significant pain and impairment of sensation and strength, as well as permanent incontinence.

The complaint seeks the maximum $250,000 permitted under California law (Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975) for non-economic damages in addition to economic damages for his future medical care. Michels & Lew obtained a settlement for the plaintiff of $2,000,000.