Still in pain after back surgery...
I had back surgery in 2003 and have gone back to the doctor many times throughout the years complaining of pain. Every time I went to see him he told me there was nothing wrong and that the metal cage he implanted looked very stable. So I started going to a pain doctor and he put me on more pain meds.
My primary care doctor had put me on pain meds almost right after the back surgery. Recently the pain doctor ordered an MRI and said my back looked terrible, so I made another appointment with back surgeon. He reviewed the CD but never read the report. He said he didn't want anybody else's opinion, he would draw his own conclusions.
This went on from 2004 to 2014 with me going to different pain doctors and having a pain stimulator implanted in my back in 2011. I had also returned to the back surgeon probably 3 or 4 more times but kept getting the same answer from him - nothing wrong.
In 2014 I gave him one more chance because I was in so much pain I didn't know who to go to, so I finally got another appointment with him. I went back in to see him with new CT Scans.
He looked them over and finally told me that there was a screw that looked like it was hitting the nerves in my spinal cord. He said he didn't like its placement. He told me to schedule surgery with his nurse and he would take all the metal out and I would be good as new.
I had been reviewing my records from his office and I noticed he had made a notation in 2003 right after surgery in my records that he did not like the placement of 1 of the screws he had put in. The notation stated, "Dr. ____, I am writing to inform you everything went well with the surgery except I have concerns over the placement of 1 of the screws, if patient doesn't complain of any problems I will leave it in place."
All these years I had gone to him complaining of pain he never mentioned anything about any screw. Now I wanted another opinion for another back surgery. I went to a Chicago doctor and he took just a simple x-ray and told me, "yeah, I can tell you your problem, you have a screw going right into your spinal canal."
So I called my previous surgeon's office and told them I won't be having my surgery done by him, and thank you for your time.
That was in early December 2014, and on December 19, 2014 I had the Chicago doctor do the surgery. But now I'm having trouble with nerve pain affecting mainly my left leg. The doctor told me that it would hopefully go away with time, but it hasn't so far.
So now I'm seeing a therapist to try to correct the damage the screw had caused hitting on those nerves for the last 11 years.
Is there anything I can do about this? Is this medical malpractice by the first doctor for not following up with his note that the screw was in my spinal nerves? I suffered pain for all those years, and it could have been corrected if the doctor had simply followed-up with his note. Can I file a lawsuit? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Still in pain after back surgery...":
John (Chesterton, Indiana):
Normally there is a two (2) year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. There are exceptions. The statute can be "tolled," meaning the time doesn't begin until the patient knows about about the malpractice, or should know about the malpractice.
In your case it's arguable you didn't learn about the purported medical malpractice until 2014. As a result, it can be argued the statute of limitations did not begin until then.
Medical malpractice claims should NEVER be handled by an individual who is not an attorney. These cases are invariably complex and expensive to pursue. Only attorneys with substantial experience in malpractice law are qualified to undertake such cases.
Secure copies of all your medical records. You particularly want the notations from the initial doctor stating:
"Dr. ____, I am writing to inform you everything went well with the surgery, except I have concerns over the placement of 1 of the screws, if patient doesn't complain of any problems I will leave it in place."
Once you have all medical records in hand, do some research. Look for personal injury attorneys in your area with substantial experience and success in medical malpractice claims.
Fortunately, most reputable med mal attorneys list some of the cases they have succeeded in settling or winning for their clients. Make appointments with several of them. After you have visited with several attorneys you will have a better idea if the chance of success in your claim.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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