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Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld
J.D

March 2, 2023

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Neurosurgeons are highly skilled medical professionals who spent years of training beyond medical school. However, studies show that neurosurgery has the highest-paid malpractice claims despite extensive training.

The neurosurgeon’s medical negligence and failure to properly diagnose a condition may have adverse health consequences. For example, a surgical error in the brain may cause permanent brain damage and even death.

Chicago neurosurgeon malpractice attorney

The medical malpractice lawyers of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC work with victims of medical negligence. Our law firm helps clients recover damages to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and suffering.

Schedule a free consultation through our contact form or call our Chicago neurosurgeon malpractice attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call). All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Who Is a Neurosurgeon?

Neurosurgeons are medical doctors who diagnose and treat medical conditions that affect the nervous system. Neurosurgeons work on the central and peripheral nervous system with extensive training and skills, including the skull, bones of the face, spine, and neck.

There are only about 4,000 neurosurgeons in the United States who specialize in surgical procedures and diagnose and treat neurological conditions.

Common Conditions Treated by Neurosurgeons

The neurosurgeons’ education and training in medical school allow them to work on a wide range of conditions affecting the skull, brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Below is a list of the health conditions under the expertise of neurosurgeons.

  • Traumatic brain injuries: Neurosurgeons offer specialized interventions for traumatic brain injuries, such as medications and surgical operations. They may also prescribe therapies so the patient will regain abilities lost due to traumatic injuries.
  • Strokes and aneurysms: Neurosurgeons have to immediately assess whether or not a patient requires a surgical operation. The neurosurgeon may perform the surgery as soon as possible to prevent further risk and nerve damage.
  • Brain tumors: A neurosurgeon addresses brain issues by removing tumors. In some instances, neurosurgeons use incisions to reduce the size of a tumor.
  • Neurological disorders: Neurosurgeons might treat patients suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, or other disorders that impact neurological function.
  • Degenerative disorders: Neurosurgeons have contributed to treating functional neurological disorders, especially with deep brain stimulation. Neurosurgeons have also applied neurosurgical approaches in treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease symptoms in the past few decades.
  • Developmental disorders of the brain and spine: Pediatric neurosurgeons specialize in treating congenital disorders and developmental conditions, such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and other birth injuries. Neurosurgeons may work with other specialists to develop and implement a treatment plan. Their role might be to perform procedures such as a selective dorsal rhizotomy or the implantation of a baclofen pump.
  • Spinal injuries: Spine surgeons treat injuries to the spine, including herniated discs, spinal compressions, broken vertebrae, and bone spurs.

Causes of Neurosurgery Malpractice

Despite their expertise, neurosurgeons face the most malpractice claims among all the physician specialties. According to the Journal of Neurosurgery, about 20% of neurosurgeons in the US deal with medical malpractice cases annually.

The Doctor’s Company, a large medical malpractice insurance company in the US, cited the three significant causes of neurosurgery malpractice. These include improper diagnosis, improper performance of the surgical operation, and improper patient management.

Improper Diagnoses

Improper diagnoses may occur when inappropriate tests are done, or the results are not reviewed properly. Below are the common instances where a neurosurgeon may misdiagnose a particular condition:

  • Failing to order the proper tests: The neurosurgeon typically orders the tests after assessing the patient’s condition. The doctor may also carry out a physical assessment, including examining vital signs.
    However, the neurosurgeon may fail to order the proper tests and miss essential elements affecting patients. This medical error constitutes a medical malpractice case as it may result in a delayed diagnosis of a medical condition.
  • Misreading the test results: Reading test results properly is as crucial as ordering the tests to find answers. While neurosurgeons are considered experts in their field, their inexperience with a specific type of disease may cause them to misinterpret a test result.
    Misreading test results may cause the neurosurgeon to proceed with an unnecessary surgical procedure. This medical error may cause irreversible brain damage when done in the brain.
  • Inexperience or overconfidence: The neurosurgeon may not have the experience necessary to recognize symptoms or order tests that could accurately diagnose a condition. The lack of experience may cause physicians to misinterpret the results, leading to misdiagnosis and patient risk.
    In some cases, the neurosurgeon may have years of substantial experience. Their confidence in their skills and experience may cause them to make diagnoses even with minimal evidence.
  • Inadequate diagnostic testing: The lack of adequate testing may result in the neurosurgeon’s failure to accurately diagnose the patient’s health condition. The physician might not order the correct diagnostic test due to inexperience or overconfidence.

Surgical Mistakes and Errors

Surgical mistakes may stem from a lack of planning, a weak procedural system, poor communication, and even inexperience.

Here are ways a neurosurgeon may commit medical errors during neurosurgery:

  • The neurosurgeon fails to invest time and careful thought during the surgery
  • Making imprecise cuts due to slip of the hand
  • Basing the surgery on the wrong information
  • Failure to use visible surgical site markers

Improperly Managing Surgical Patient Care

Improperly managing a surgical patient’s care could result in post-operative health risks. The possibility of post-operative risks calls for the observance of a standardized systemic examination and neurological assessment to detect any early signs of health deterioration.

An example of mismanaging care could occur when the medical team fails to recognize signs of a brain bleed after the operation. Failure to recognize this sign may result in additional injuries that can damage the brain.

Neurosurgical Malpractice Jury Awards and Settlements

Injured patients who suffer from surgical errors may file medical malpractice cases against the erring neurosurgical team.

However, filing a medical malpractice claim for a surgical error can be difficult. The neurosurgeon malpractice laws in most states discourage people from filing frivolous lawsuits against neurosurgeons.

A patient will need legal assistance from a qualified lawyer who can help investigate and get results. Medical malpractice laws vary substantially across states. The neurosurgery malpractice lawyer must be familiar with the rules governing these cases in a particular state.

Below are some of the successful claims involving neurosurgeons:

$1,500,000 Court Settlement for Injuries Caused After a Spinal Cord Surgery in Cook County, Illinois

Neurosurgeons performed spinal surgery on a 58-year-old patient. The doctors prescribed Dilaudid after the patient complained of pain in the back and neck post-operation. However, the pain persisted, and the patient felt numb in most parts of his body.

The neurosurgeon deemed it necessary to discontinue the Dilaudid prescription and ordered the medical staff to stop administering the medication. However, the nurses continued to administer the drug to the patient.

Dilaudid used to treat severe pain caused the patient to have back and spinal cord problems that led to a state of near-total paralysis. The doctors transferred the patient to a nursing home for regular care.

Unfortunately, the patient developed bedsores and died from the life-threatening sores. Attorneys for his estate filed a civil lawsuit alleging that the patient’s death was a direct result of the negligence of the hospital, neurosurgeons, pharmacist, and the nursing home.

The case was settled in court. The jury favored the plaintiff and $1.5 million in compensatory damages to the state of the injured party.

$10,000,000 Settlement for Surgical Error in Cook County, Illinois

The case involved surgical errors arising from a delay in diagnosis and errors in performing the surgery.

A thirty-one-year-old patient presented with pain in his leg and back. The medical staff recommended a CT scan that took hours to schedule and complete because the patient could not sit still.

The medical staff failed to administer any treatment, resulting in the deterioration of his condition, which led to paralysis. The neurosurgeon found that a spinal infection had caused paralysis the following day.

The patient remained paralyzed even after the neurosurgeon performed a neurosurgical operation on his spinal cord. The injured party filed a case against the neurosurgeon, nurses, and other medical staff.

He claimed that the medical team could have done better to prevent paralysis. His attorneys structured his settlement to cover his medical bills, lost wages, and projected long-term losses.

The case was settled out of court, with each defendant agreeing to a combined total negotiated settlement of $10 million.

$2,500,000 Verdict for Surgical Error Resulting in Death in Cook County, Illinois

A thirty-five-year-old obese woman presented herself with back problems. The neurosurgeon determined that she needed surgery to repair a herniated disc in her lumbar region.

During the pre-assessment, the anesthesiologist found that the patient had sleep apnea. Despite this finding, the medical team proceeded with the surgery. She was intubated while awake, and the surgery was completed with issues.

However, during post-operation, the woman complained of pain. An opioid Dilaudid was administered to treat her pain, which the nurse administered as ordered. She was later found unresponsive and passed away from respiratory failure.

The lawyers argued that the administration of Dilaudid, given the patient’s health condition, constitutes negligence. The jury favored the plaintiffs and awarded $2,500,000 to her estate.

Neurosurgical Error Injury FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions raised by families dealing with an error made by a neurosurgeon. We appreciate that you may have many more questions about your legal rights and options. Consequently, we invite you to contact our law firm for a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

How Are Neurologists Different From Neurosurgeons?

Neurologists and neurosurgeons focus on the same specialty, which is to treat disorders in the nervous system. However, a neurologist provides a non-invasive treatment while a neurosurgeon performs surgery, an invasive treatment.

Can I Sue a Neurosurgeon for a Failed Surgical Operation?

The injuries caused by a neurosurgical error can be debilitating. The law allows the injured party to sue a neurosurgeon for failed surgical operation.

However, filing a legal action against a neurosurgeon can be complex. The process requires proving that the injured party suffered from injuries directly from the neurosurgeon’s medical negligence.

How Much Are the Average Medical Malpractice Claims in Neurosurgery?

Studies show that neurosurgery has the highest medical malpractice claims, with paid malpractice settlements averaging $439,146. The compensation helps to cover the medical bills, lost quality of life, and the pain and suffering of the injured party.

How Long After the Neurosurgical Operation Can You File Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Illinois?

In Illinois, patients can file medical malpractice claims within two years from the time of the surgery. However, this may not always be the case, especially if the patient did not immediately feel complications right after the procedure.

Reach out to a medical malpractice attorney to discuss the details of your neurosurgery case so you can take the best steps to recover damages.

What Can I Expect for My Outcome After the Surgical Procedure?

Neurosurgeons should inform their patients and their families about what to expect during the first few days and weeks after the procedure. As part of compassionate medical care, the neurosurgeon must communicate the limitations placed on patients and how they can cope and recover from the surgical procedure.

Get Help From an Experienced Chicago Neurosurgeon Malpractice Attorney to Build Your Medical Malpractice Claim

You will need the assistance of an experienced malpractice attorney to file and win a claim. Our expert attorneys at Rosenfeld Lawyers LLC have a long history of winning neurosurgery cases for our clients.

If you or a family member is a victim of neurosurgical error, contact a Chicago neurosurgeon malpractice lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.

Our law firm provides advice on the best legal action that fits a client’s specific situation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Resources:

  • Healthcare Malpractice Settlements

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