How Medical Malpractice can Result in Spinal Cord Injuries 


While there are many ways a person can sustain a spinal cord injury, one of the most frustrating situations is when your injury is the result of malpractice by a doctor. You put your trust in a doctor, hospital, or other practitioner every time you seek medical care. While not necessarily intentional, the unfortunate reality is that medical providers can make mistakes that cause huge consequences for a patient. Unfortunately, medical malpractice is to blame for almost five percent of all spinal cord injuries. However, if something goes wrong in the course of your medical treatment, there are ways to be compensated by the provider under the law. Because of this, it is important for you to understand your legal rights.

While the exact number of deaths in the United States due to medical malpractice is not known due to confidential settlements that often result following a wrongful death, it is estimated that 250,000 to 440,000 people die each year because of medical malpractice. Behind each medical malpractice death is a heart-wrenching story, often leaving loved ones wondering what protections should be in place to avoid this in the future.

Patients deserve more protection

Not enough is being done to prevent medical malpractice. Insurance companies and other agencies, such as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, have common practices that hinder medical malpractice research and even contribute to medical malpractice deaths. For example, if medical malpractice causes a spinal cord injury that leads to death, it cannot be listed on someone’s death certificate because the cause of death needs to match with an insurance billing code. This prevents us from knowing exactly how many medical malpractice deaths take place each year. Another example is the VA failing to report 90% of possibly dangerous medical providers (medical providers who have been reported for medical malpractice). Due to this lack of reporting, these medical providers have been able to continue to practice in other states, which contributes to further medical malpractice injuries and deaths. Patients deserve more protection from medical malpractice injuries and deaths. Further preventative measures must be taken to limit incidents of medical malpractice.

Common medical malpractice SCI injuries

There are several ways in which a person can sustain a spinal cord injury from improper medical care. One of the most common causes of medical malpractice spinal cord injuries is during birth. For example, using forceps improperly can cause an infant to sustain a spinal cord injury upon birth. Additionally, surgeries are another common cause of medical malpractice spinal cord injuries. Unfortunately, any back and neck surgeries have caused paralysis in thousands of patients, old and young. One seemingly “small” error on the doctor’s part can lead to a patient’s permanent paralysis.

What should you do if you are paralyzed due to medical malpractice?

two doctors performing surgery

After a spinal cord injury, it is always in your best interest to focus on recovering to the best of your ability. New treatments that can enhance a person’s strength and mobility after a spinal cord injury exist now more than ever. One of these treatments is activity-based therapy. Many activity-based therapy facilities exist across the country, such as Project Walk and NextStep Fitness. These facilities utilize various workouts to help people with spinal cord injuries become even stronger after they have been discharged from outpatient therapy. Often, this therapy will involve gait training, guided-repetitive movement below the level of injury, vibration therapy, and more.

Additionally, try to stay hopeful after sustaining a spinal cord injury. There is more reason than ever to hope for a cure or for future treatment for your injury. Due to technological advancements, new, effective treatments for spinal cord injuries are now being developed. For example, epidural simulation of the spinal cord, spearheaded by the University of Kentucky and USC, is changing the entire spinal cord injury research world. Epidural stimulation is helping people with spinal cord injuries stand and walk again, as well as regain automatic functions. Stem cell research is also providing plenty of hope, with trials starting in Europe later this year. Exoskeletons also show promise, helping people with spinal cord injuries walk again while they wait for a more permanent treatment.

Prevent future medical malpractice from happening to you

While you cannot go back in time and prevent your spinal cord injury, there are things you can do to prevent future injuries from medical malpractice. First and foremost, always seek a second opinion for any serious condition; this especially includes conditions that require surgery. Also, make sure to thoroughly review any doctor you see. Check online reviews from other patients, and make sure they are experienced in their field. Double-checking the dosage of all medications doctors prescribe to you can also prevent future medical malpractice. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • Read every word on informed consent medical forms.
  • Report every symptom you experience to your doctor.
  • Closely track how your symptoms change.
  • Be thorough when talking with your doctor; never feel like you have to withhold information.

Understand your patient rights

If you believe you have experienced medical malpractice, contact a lawyer immediately. If you have a spinal cord injury as a result of medical malpractice, you will want to find a spinal cord injury lawyer to get the best results. An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer can help make sure you get the rehabilitation you need and the financial compensation you deserve. Medical malpractice should never be something that is not financially taken care of.  The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm is experienced in navigating these types of cases. Call for your free consultation at 1-877-SCI-FIRM if you or a loved one has had a serious injury due to medical malpractice.