Nagle and Knaack obtain a defense verdict in Fairfax Neurosurgery case seeking $2,271,000.
Plaintiff filed suit in the Fairfax County Circuit Court alleging that the defendant was negligent in his post-surgical decision-making following spinal cord stimulator revision surgery in February 2010. Plaintiff claimed that the defendant surgeon should have used intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring during the surgery, should have given high-dose steroids post-op and should have ordered a CT-myelogram or MRI in the post-operative work-up instead of the CT that was done on the same day as the surgery. Defendant denied the allegations and the case was tried on September 19-23, 2016 at the Fairfax County Circuit Court.
At the center of the case was a February 19, 2010 surgery to remove an old spinal cord stimulator module and place a new one to help the patient address chronic lower back and lower extremity pain. Plaintiff’s surgical course was unremarkable and the surgery was successful in replacing the stimulator, but upon emergence from anesthesia, plaintiff indicated pain, loss of sense in the lower extremity and weakness of the lower extremities. Defendant neurosurgeon directed work-up of the patient’s condition and checked for possible reasons that the patient had a change in neurological status after the surgery. Evaluation and physical therapy continued for a week and the patient was discharged home for ongoing therapy and evaluation to help her regain maximum use of her lower extremity. Plaintiff’s counsel claimed at trial that plaintiff walked into the hospital on February 19, 2010 and never walked again (though the evidence was contrary to that claim) and he asked the jury in closing to award $2,271,000.
Defense experts, neurosurgeons from Roanoke and Norfolk, Virginia, testified that the defendant’s surgery was appropriate, did not require IONM, that the standard of care did not require administration of steroids because they are not useful in acute spinal cord injury, and that the stat CT was the appropriate test under the circumstances. They also testified that the injury to plaintiff’s spinal cord is one that occurs in spinal cord stimulator revision surgery and that it occurs even when the surgeon does everything right.
Rich Nagle and Jim Knaack tried the three and a half day trial to a jury verdict for the defense.