It's a patient's nightmare: waking up after a surgery to find that something has gone terribly wrong. High on the list of dreaded outcomes is paralysis, whether of a small part or a large area of the body. If you've had surgery, and have been paralyzed, it's natural to wonder if something your surgeon did wrong caused your paralysis.
Of course, not every negative outcome of a surgical procedure is the result of medical malpractice. That said, there are many avoidable errors that can lead to paralysis or other complications. The first thing most people think of is whether the doctor made a mistake during surgery, inadvertently severing a nerve or causing some other impact to the spine or spinal column. Other things that can lead to paralysis are: misdiagnosis that leads to unnecessary surgery; improperly maintained or monitored medical equipment that malfunctions during surgery; and anesthesia that is not properly administered.
The common thread in all these scenarios is that a medical professional responsible for your care didn't do something they should have, or did something they shouldn't have. It's one thing for a surgeon to make a mistake, but it that mistake was not one that a reasonably competent surgeon in the same situation would have made, and you were harmed as a result, your surgeon has been negligent.
Sometimes paralysis is so far out of the range of risks for a particular procedure that if it occurs, it's obvious that the surgeon was negligent. Most of the time, however, it's much more difficult to tell if a patient's paralysis was an unavoidable outcome of a necessary surgery, or if it was the result of medical malpractice.
Most people, and even many personal injury attorneys, don't know how to go about determining whether paralysis was caused by a surgeon's negligence. It's important to know what questions to ask, what records to review, and what information to look for. Beyond knowing what to look for, an attorney needs to be able to “connect the dots” for a judge or jury so that they, too, will be able to conclude that your surgeon did not act as a reasonable doctor would under the circumstances, and that the harm you suffered stems from that negligence.
Paralysis, whether paraplegia, hemiplegia, or quadriplegia, is a life-changing, often permanent, injury. In addition to being possibly unable to work, you will have increased expenses for care, treatment, possible modifications to your home, and more. You're dealing with uncharted territory. However, if you're working with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, they will be able to help you know what to anticipate, as well as to prove your case so that you can recover the funds you need to move forward with your life and care for your family.
It's important to recognize that Oregon offers only a limited time to pursue a claim for medical malpractice: two years from the date you knew or should have known of the surgeon's negligence. After this statute of limitations expires, you are barred from filing a malpractice claim, no matter how egregious the malpractice or how dire your need. That's why the first thing you or your family should do is to contact an experienced Portland medical malpractice attorney for a case evaluation.
A reputable attorney will not charge you for an evaluation and will not accept your case unless he or she believes it has a reasonable chance of succeeding. Of course, an attorney has to have extensive experience in order to be able to make this assessment. Be sure to ask any attorney you consult not only how much experience they have with medical malpractice, but with surgical errors and paralysis cases.
If you'd like to learn more about surgical negligence and paralysis, we invite you to contact Huegli Fraser PC for a free, confidential initial consultation. We look forward to answering your questions.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
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