Visitor Question

Doctor denied back surgery for years, causing needless suffering…

Submitted By: Gary (San Marcos, CA, USA)

I just had my c4, c5, c5, c6 vertebrae fused. Of course I’m not comfortable at present as it occurred the 10th of this month (February 2014). I was directed by a certain previous doctor to see a surgeon who in all her wisdom, decided I was not a candidate for any surgery. Here it is, approximately 4 years later. My new doctor and his team realized I could (lost for words) “realize relief” with the surgery I sought.

My surgeon, who I find to be a great positive person, found nerve impingement and spurs that I feel could have been fixed years ago. In realizing his statement, it occurred to me the previous medical group had no intention to help fix an obvious problem. I know everybody is lawsuit-happy these days. I own a business and workers’ comp has ballooned in price due to sue-happy people.

I was at a loss as to what to do with pain issues. I lost my drive, had to continue pain meds, and went thru a divorce partially due to pain issues. I have for years stayed with the least damaging pain meds. I am allergic to sulfa products (which cut out any hope for non-inflammatory products) and went with Tramadol as it’s much less hard on me…mentality and physically.

This doctor I am speaking of in all his wisdom sent me to a pain management doc in 2009. I may be off on dates. I had a c6 c7 fusion in the early 2000’s. In looking back, I decided this pain management doc was a bit off. He got frustrated and one day sent me home with Fentinol patches. He said if I keep up on taking so much advil I could end up with kidney disease, far worse than my pain issues.

My former wife said not to take Fentinol, as the side effect include possible death. So I suffered. I researched and found out about a doctor who specialized in Prolotherapy. He did his best.

I have lower lumbar issues as well. The treatments included up to 28 injections from my cervical spine to lumbar spine. It felt to me like a great massage. And felt acutely as if relief was occurring. But after several thousands of dollars (prolotherapy is not recognized by insurance companies), I found there to be no long term relief and would get worse months after treatment.

Loooooong story short…. My new doctor had a connection with a surgeon who felt he could help. As he did surgery, he found greater nerve impingement than the MRI’s had shown, along with bone spurs not known to exist. I haven’t had a post-op appointment yet. He told my fiance after surgery that it was worse than he thought and he has high hopes that I can have a normal life.

I am so upset that for years, 2 doctors acted as if I was crazy for needing meds and wanting surgery. I don’t get it. And then, after so much frustration, I change medical groups to a D.O. who sees there could be help, and he has a doctor who can do it.

Why should I have had to suffer for so many years because of some docs’ opinion that I am faking the pain and must be an addict? If I were an addict, shouldn’t I be dead or have liver disease due to all my cravings for pain meds. I HATE BEING ON PAIN MEDS.

I am now 53 and feel I have lost 12 years of life due to opinions not conducive to helping a patient, just consulting him, and making him feel lucky they prescribe meds to ease his pain. Geez.

I have a kidney stone, had them before, a sore shoulder, and a tear in my right knee meniscus. This old med group jumped at the possibility of cutting into me for these issues. I passed. Why have something done when I will still suffer from debilitating neck and back pain?

I would never consider any kind of suit until my present surgeon knows all the issues involved that he found during surgery, and why it wasn’t done years ago.

The very same MD I am speaking of whom thought or made me feel I was nuts, denounced laser surgery as well. In 2010, I was more financially sound to consider this procedure and was told by an institute form Arizona they could help at least my neck issues. He was against it.

I really need some answers. I have gone through a divorce and loss of business due to these pain issues, and due to a particular doctor and his medical group’s opinion that I didn’t deserve the time of day. That they knew better. What can I do about this? I suffered for years needlessly. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Gary,

Unfortunately, you can’t sue a doctor because he told you he thought you were feigning pain or injury. To have committed medical malpractice, the doctor would have had to engage in actions or omissions which deviated from the medical standard of care in the community, and as a result of the deviation, caused you undue harm or injury.

Moreover, the actions or omissions of the doctors you refer to apparently took place in 2009. In California, there are two alternative statute of limitation periods for medical malpractice. These limitations are provided in the State of California’s Code of Civil Procedure, section 340.5. The statutes state:

“…that the (medical malpractice) suit must be initiated within 3 years after the date of injury, or 1 year after the date of discovery, whichever occurs first. The date of discovery is the date the patient discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered it.”

In your case, if you were able to prove you recently discovered the malpractice and, within a year of its discovery sought legal action, then you may have some viable recourse. You should speak with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 19, 2014

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