Rusty Hendrickson and Dan Hoehner of Pierce Couch Hendrickson Baysinger & Green, L.L.P. recently obtained a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of a neurosurgeon in the District Court of Oklahoma, Oklahoma County, following a one-week jury trial.
The Plaintiff, a 60-year-old, obese woman with a history of significant lumbar/sacral back pain, underwent a three level anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF). During the surgery, there was an injury to the patient’s common iliac vein resulting in profound bleeding which could not be stopped. Multiple surgical procedures were performed over the course of the next six hours including embolectomies and bypass procedures in order to restore blood flow to the Plaintiff’s lower extremities.
The Plaintiff underwent multiple hospitalizations following her surgery and was confined to a wheelchair with resulting partial paralysis. Plaintiff introduced a Life Care Plan at trial in excess of 2 million dollars and sought additional damages for her disfigurement and pain and suffering.
The Plaintiff claimed that the Defendants were negligent in proceeding with spine surgery from the front because the Plaintiff had significant atherosclerotic disease in her aorta which significantly increased her risk of bleeding or a stroke and that spine surgery from the back would have avoided injury to the vascular structures. The Plaintiff denied she was advised of the additional risks related to surgery from the front.
The Defense argued that the ALIF procedure was the only surgery likely to provide relief to the Plaintiff’s debilitating back pain and that the Plaintiff was advised that she was at increased risk for complications due to her atherosclerotic disease and other co-morbidities. It was also established that a vascular injury during ALIF surgery is a known complication of surgery which does not suggest negligence on the part of a surgeon.