The parents of a man who was paralyzed at age 14 because of a spinal operation, and died at age 22 due to complications from that surgery, have been awarded $45.6 million by a Bronx jury. The man, Edward Beloyianis, had gone to New York Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University Medical Center in November of 2002 to undergo a surgery to correct his scoliosis. This condition made is spine curve in an S-shape.
Before undergoing the surgery, Mr. Beloyianis played ice hockey and other sports. At the time, the surgery was cosmetic thought it eventually would have been necessary to prevent the curving of the spine from compressing Mr. Beloyianis’s organs.
During this surgery four screws were misplaced. They were pressing on his spinal cord, resulting in his being paralyzed from the waist down. Despite being paralyzed, Beloyianis was able to attend college and repair computers. However, eight years after the surgery, he died from complications of the paralysis.
After deliberating for three days, Edward’s parents were awarded $45.6 million by the jury, who split responsibility evenly between the hospital and the surgeon who performed the surgery. The hospital plans to appeal because they believe that “the verdict has no basis in law or fact.” The hospital had told Mr. Beloyianis’s parents that during the operation he had a stroke. A CT scan had been performed, ruling out any surgical injury to the spinal cord. The parents were told that it wasn’t anyone’s fault.
However, according to the parent’s attorney, the CT scan was never performed. Had the misplaced screws been detected promptly, there would have been a possibility that Mr. Beloyianis would have regained at least some of his ability to walk.
Though Mr. Beloyianis learned how to cope with his paralysis, it is possible that the effects of the paralysis could have been minimized through prompt detection.
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