$1,500,000 settlement for misdiagnosis of an ependymoma
Our client complained of back and neck pain with numbness and tingling in her hands and feet. Her orthopedic surgeon diagnosed her with degenerative disc disease and referred her to a neurologist to rule out possible nerve problems. The neurologist performed an EMG (electromyogram) which was slightly abnormal, but he didn’t order any other tests and wrongly concluded the patient’s neurological exam was normal. He told our client her numbness and tingling symptoms were caused by obesity, and she should go on a diet to lose weight. Assuming the patient had no neurological problems, the orthopedic surgeon performed spine surgery for the degenerative disc disease condition; however, when our client awoke from the anesthesia she was paralyzed. An MRI scan revealed a large benign tumor (ependymoma) in the patient’s spinal cord which caused paralysis when her spine was manipulated during the surgery.
We proved the defendant neurologist breached the standard of care when he failed to order a spine MRI, which would have clearly revealed the ependymoma. Usually, ependymomas are congenital (present at birth). Because they are benign (non–cancerous) they grow very slowly over a patient’s lifetime. When ependymomas finally grow large enough to cause symptoms (usually numbness and tingling), they are usually surgically removed without further problems.
During litigation, we discovered the defendant neurologist had failed the Neurology Board Certification three times.