A Toronto native had been rendered paraplegic and will function with a brain that is significantly impaired after his specialist physician did not recognize that all he needed was a simple procedure.
The plaintiff’s left leg began to give out for no apparent reason. Several years later, he also began to experience numbness in his lower back and groin area, urinary hesitancy and loss of erection. He was referred by his family doctor to a neurologist, who ordered various tests, including an MRI and myelogram. The preliminary report of the radiologist suggested he might have an arteriovenous malformation, or a bad connection between the veins and arteries, so he was referred to another neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon found no obvious wasting of the lower limbs or spine, but there was decreased sensation of his lower limbs, and test results showed low density and dilated veins. The radiologist thought the cause was a dural fistula or AVM, so he was referred to a top specialist in angiography. He signed a consent for the angiography to be performed by the specialist, but in fact the surgery was performed by another doctor with an assistant. It came back negative, but his symptoms progressed. The doctor who performed the surgery saw the patient again several months later. His symptoms had significantly worsened and he was now confined to a wheelchair. The doctor forwarded the patient’s records to a specialist who reported that a more definitive angiogram should be performed.
He had significant neurological deficits on admission to yet another specialist. The patient underwent a laminectomy on his spine to fix two defective vertebrae. His symptoms had degenerated to the point where he was sent to rehabilitation to develop wheelchair skills and independence in self-care and daily activities. He recovered somewhat but lost most sensation in his feet, and his sexual and bladder function continued to be problematic. Intense pain was his primary problem.
Had surgery been performed earlier, the deterioration and long-term disability would have been likely avoided. As a result of the delay, the patient has significant impairments. He is paraplegic and has a neurogenic bowel and bladder. His autonomic function and sexual functions are impaired and he requires catheterization on a regular basis. He has a great deal of difficulty controlling painful morphine pump insertions.
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