Neurosurgery is at the tops of the list of specialties that have had malpractice claims made against it. Additionally, the average payouts for neurosurgeons tend to be high despite the low rate of being successfully sued. Neurologists prevent, diagnose, and treat medical conditions that involve the central and peripheral nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Neurosurgeons perform surgery on the brain, spine, and nerves. To diagnose and treat neurological disorders, neurologist and neurosurgeons examine the patients’ muscle strength and tome, reflexes, sensation, memory, balance, and sensation. Patients’ cranial nerve may be examined through an eye examination.
Common neurological and neurosurgical conditions include:
- Neuropathy and neuralgia (nerve dysfunction or disease, which causes pain)
- Cerebral palsy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Disc herniations (when a vertebral disc protrudes from the spinal column, and impinges one or more nerve roots)
- Brain tumors
- Lumbar and cervical spine stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column)
- Skull fractures
- Spinal cord cancer
- Nerve tumors
- Hydrocephalus (accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Brain aneurysms
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding on the brain)
- Moyamoya syndrome (certain arteries in the brain are constricted, disrupting blood flow)
Potential complications of neurosurgery includes:
- Heart attack
- Damage to adjacent structures
These complications do not necessarily constitute malpractice since they are known risks of the surgery.
An example of one neurosurgeon who had multiple medical malpractice claims made against him is Dr. Albanna. In 1998, a construction worker went to see a St. Louis neurosurgeon after he suffered an injury through heavy lifting. The neurosurgeon, Albanna, recommended a “bone fusion” where a hollow metal screw is inserted into the spine to fuse the vertebrae. After the surgery, the construction worker complained of a burning sensation. Later he was admitted to the emergency room complaining of sever lower back and leg pain. X-rays showed that the bone was not fusing. The construction worker underwent corrective surgery by another doctor a year later. He sued Albanna for medical malpractice.
This was not Abanna’s first medical malpractice lawsuit filed against him. He has been named as a defendant in about 50 lawsuits that alleged negligence since 1987. These lawsuits include four wrongful death cases according to court records.
Albanna has been known to perform complex and risky surgeries on the spines, necks, and brains of patients. He has handled cases from blood clots to traumatic brain injuries. In one case he saved the life of a sheriff’s deputy who had been shot in the forehead by carefully removing the metal fragments from the man’s brain.
Despite the number of lawsuits filed against him Albanna continued to practice medicine. Dozens of patients filed lawsuits against him claiming that his negligence left them with permanent nerve damage, chronic pain, and lost income.
Even though he has had a high number of lawsuits started against him, Albanna continues to practice. Some believe that hospitals and insurers have been too lenient.
It is possible that the high rate of medical malpractice cases against Albanna may be due to his choice of profession (which is more likely to be sued for medical malpractice). Also, he tended to accept high-risk cases that other doctors were not willing to take. These high-risk cases were patients with serious injuries, chronic conditions, and failed treatments.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.