A jury award in a medical malpractice case was recently set at $2.88 million, reflecting the serious malpractice on the part of a doctor and his clinic while treating a patient for back pain. The case involves a man who was seeking pain management for back pain and was prescribed the very common treatment of a steroid injection. Although this treatment is routine, any procedure involving an injection must be done carefully to avoid infections. One of the key safety measures needed to protect patients receiving an injection is to make sure the skin is properly sterilized, so no outside bacteria will work its way into the spinal column when this injection is given.
In this case signs of an infection started to manifest shortly after the treatment, with the patient and his family becoming increasingly concerned as the injection site became red and inflamed, eventually developing into a large lump. However, when the man contacted the clinic that had treated him to find out what the lump could be, the nurse consulted with the doctor and told him not to worry.
In the following days it became clear that the lump was the sign of something more serious and the man was eventually admitted to the hospital with life-threatening meningitis. The man recovered but with significant injuries to his spinal cord and nervous system, losing control of his bladder and bowels and experiencing significant pain trying to walk. Eventually the pain became so severe that prior to the conclusion of the suit he filed against the clinic, he took his own life.
The doctor, for his part, says that there was no negligence and denies that the patient contacted his office about the lump, saying that it was not in his medical records and therefore the call did not occur.
Source: Kansas City Star, “Johnson County jury awards $2.88 million in malpractice case against pain clinic,” Alan Bavley, April 6, 2014.