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Failing to Timely Treat Spinal Cord Injury Leads to $16.5 Million Jury Verdict

   An Arizona man and his wife were recently awarded $16.5 million against a neurosurgeon who negligently failed to timely treat the man for a fractured spine following an ATV accident.  The man, Trent Hughes, suffered a fractured spine after falling from the ATV, an injury that necessitated that he be airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center.  Despite this injury, the neurosurgeon on call, Christopher Pham, M.D., failed to see Mr. Hughes that day, and after seeing and recognizing the extent of his injuries, failed to operate on Mr. Hughes for 2 days.  As a result of this negligence, Mr. Hughes became paralyzed from the waist down.  Although it was established during trial that Dr. Pham was present at the hospital when Mr. Hughes arrived via airlift, he failed to adequately explain his whereabouts or why there was a delay in evaluation/surgery.  As part of the jury's award, the Hughes were awarded monetary sums for past and future lost wages, past and future medical expenses and pain and suffering. 

One of the more common types of negligence that we see in cases involving spinal cord injuries is the failure to take the patient promptly to surgery to "decompress" the spinal cord; i.e., relieve the pressure on the spinal cord that is causing the neurological dysfunction / paralysis.  Although there is a plethora of medical literature that has been published on the topic, most studies agree that the sooner the foreign body is removed from the spinal cord (whether it be bone from a fracture or a disk that has herniated into the cord), the more likely the patient will be able to return to full neurological function.  As a general matter, once the spinal cord is compressed, a neurosurgeon has 12 hours within which to decompress the cord prior to the onset of permanent dysfunction.  Remarkably, within this window, the spinal cord is resiliant.  It therefore is tragically unfortunate when a neurosurgeon fails to take a patient to emergency surgery, and instead, elects to perform elective surgeries prior to the emergent one. 

As experienced medical malpractice attorneys in the Baltimore, Maryland area, our office has handled a number of cases involving spinal cord injuries and paralysis resulting from a failure to timely treat a patient.  These matters often represent the most complex of medical negligence cases and should be handled by experienced attorneys familiar with bringing these cases to trial.  Because the types of injuries and losses associated with this type of negligence are many, we recommend that you speak with our legal team to determine if you or a loved one is perhaps entitled to recover injuries such as lost past and future wages, lost past and future medical expenses and for pain and suffering / emotional distress and anguish.  If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of suspected medical negligence and/or a delay in treatment or surgical intervention to decompress the spinal cord, call our lawyers for a free consultation at (410) 385-2225. 

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