$9 Million Verdict Awarded After Doctor Fails to Diagnose Broken Neck

It seems that juries don’t take too fondly to doctors who fail to diagnose broken necks.

Recently a jury found in favor of a 51 year-old man after, having suffered an accident in which his truck slid off an icy road, rolling over several times and landing upside down, an emergency room physician negligently released the man without checking x-rays or properly performing a physical exam.

Under Illinois law, Chicago medical malpractice lawsuits arise when individuals are injured by careless or intentional acts on the part of a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider. When the healthcare professional is determined to be legally responsible for injuring the patient, they are liable for the injury, and may be made to pay damages for the harm caused. Additionally, when a doctor or nurse is held liable, the hospital may also be responsible for damages based on either negligent supervision, or failing to hire and train adequate professionals to take care of patients.

Illinois Medical malpractice claims can arise from a number of different situations, including missed diagnoses – such as this one – healthcare provider errors, medication and pharmaceutical errors, and spinal cord injuries, as well a number of other dangerous circumstances.

In this particular case, after the accident, emergency medical service workers freed the man from his truck, immobilized the man using a backboard, and put a neck brace on his neck to prevent further damage. When he arrived at the emergency department of the hospital with the neck brace, he was seen by the ER physician, who ordered X-rays and CT scans of the man’s head and face, but not of the man’s neck, despite the fact that the man complained of neck pain.

The treating physician released the man from the hospital without conducting tests on his neck, without performing a physical exam, and without a cervical collar to stabilize his neck. Four days later, the man was readmitted to the hospital with extreme pain in his left shoulder and neck, and weakness in his arm. At that point it was discovered that the man’s neck was broken, and that he required emergency neck-fusion surgery.

Further, because the initial failure of the treating physician to diagnose the broken neck, the man suffered permanent nerve damage, had to undergo a second spinal fusion, and will continue to need ongoing medical treatment, including additional future surgeries.

Based on the doctor’s negligence, the man sued the physician and the hospital; according to court records, atrial, the doctor denied that he had failed to perform a physical exam but the doctor’s own defense expert testified that if the exam had actually been performed, the patient’s obvious and intense pain would have indicated that x-rays of the neck were required.

Ultimately the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and awarded he and his wife $9 million in damages based on the fact that the doctor had egregiously and negligently breached the accepted standards of medical care by not ordering x-rays of the man’s neck.

If you or a loved one have been harmed as a result of a healthcare professional’s actions, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Compensation in these types of cases generally comes in two forms:

• Compensatory damages, which attempt to put a person back in the position he or she was in before the injury. This may include payment of medical and hospital bills incurred because of the injury, wages lost, or compensation for loss of a normal life, among many other forms.

• Punitive damages, which are intended to punish the wrongdoer for his or her actions. Additionally, punitive damages serve to send a message to others in similar positions to the defendant party, urging them not to act in the same harmful way.

An attorney will be able to advise you of your rights under the law.

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