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Old 11-06-2006, 08:49 PM   #1
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Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

Hi Everyone,

I had a microdiscectomy at L5/S1 about 1.5 years ago. The surgeon (one of the best in the country) said it was the largest herniation he had ever seen.

Immediately following the surgery, I lost feeling in my leg from the butt down to the toes, and it has never recovered or come back in any way. I understand that it takes a long time to heal the nerve, and the surgeon said the cause might have been that the herniation was so large that damage was done to the nerve when he was trying to get to the disc.

I walk with a limp and cannot stand on the toes on my right foot. I have no muscle left in my calf or glutes. I have had to turn down jobs (I am a documentary/ travel producer for the Discovery Channel) because I am physically unable to do what I used to be able to do.

I don't know what to do. I have moved on as best I can, but I still wonder how I could be the 1 in 1000 that has permanent damage, and was there anything that can be done for the fact that I have had to change careers. I'm 35 years old and it good shape, except for the leg, which is an embarrassment and source of frustration.

I would truly appreciate any advice or similar experiences -- it has been virtually impossible for me to find anyone in my situ.

- Monica

 
Old 11-06-2006, 11:27 PM   #2
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

Hi Monica.....Think that before surgery like you had you are required to sign a informed consent form which tells you the problems that can occur during and after the surgery such as nerve damage......unless you can prove gross neglgence on the part of the surgeon or the hospital staff, it would probably be difficult to sue. Why not consult an attorney in the area of med malpractice and tell him or her your story and see what type of case he can build for you.....i am very sorry for your outcome......Karen

 
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Old 11-07-2006, 12:13 AM   #3
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

Monica,

Like it was stated before you should consult an attorney and seek his/her advice. I am going through somewhat the same situation. My right glute and calf muscle have suffered from severed muscle atrophy due to denervation. The reason for the denervation is that the workers comp insurance company has continued to denied treatment for the past two years. I hired an attorney and he has helped a lot. He sent me to an a good ortho surgeon in Santa Barbara, Ca and I was approved for surgery immediately after two years of denials. I go in for surgery next month.

I am sorry to hear that you have suffered permanent nerve damage. I would definitely contact an attorney to determine if you are eligible for compesantion. I use to be a sheriff's deputy and now my career is basically over due to the incompetence of the money hungry insurance company and cold-hearted adjusters. Like you, I have turned down jobs and have been unable to attain positions that I want due to my injury. It's very frustating. I use to get pretty bummed out when people would comment on my injury, but I decided not to let it get to me. I believe things happen for a reason. Hang in there.

 
Old 11-07-2006, 10:45 AM   #4
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

How do you know if nerve damage is permanent?
Are there any test?
Sorry about your problems.
I am dealing with numbness on the side of my foot and goes to my leg if I am on my feet very long.

 
Old 11-07-2006, 11:20 AM   #5
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

Hi - I would like to ask you the same question as Mlh: how do you know for sure that the nerve damage is permanent? Did your doctor tell you it was?
My husband had surgery a long time ago, and he was left with numbness in his right foot, which the doctor said would repair itself in time. Sometimes it takes a long time. Have you seen a neurologist and had an EMG test done?

 
Old 11-07-2006, 05:36 PM   #6
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

Hi Everyone and thanks for the great responses.

Today I talked to an attorney and we talked through the circumstances. Yes, I did sign my life away before the surgery, but he was very intent upon the fact that the surgeon never discussed nerve damage with me specifically. Still, he said the next step would be to hire a doctor to do a full assessment based on all my records, the documents, and my situation now. Even then, the attorney feels certain that this doctor would come to the conclusion that I don't have a case.

The other factor is that in my case the surgery was not elective -- if I did not get it I would risk losing function of my bowels as well as permanent paralysis. So, the dangers of continuing on without outweigh the risks of the surgery.

I had a feeling that htat would be the response, but I wanted to hear it from someone.

Oh and mIh I have had EMG done and although it did show that the nerve was able to fire, the fact that there has not been one tiny bit of improvement since the surgery means (according to a few doctors) that there likely won't be any. Anyway, thank you again for the responses and please let me know if your situations improve. I'm hoping that I will just move on from this and find something else that I am interested in.

 
Old 11-09-2006, 12:59 AM   #7
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

Sorry to hear about your nerve damage. It is so hard to sue a dr. I know a few people that tried and lost. My surgeon told me before surgery that he hasn't had anyone die and I would not be the first. He said the surgery should work but there is no guarantee. We never talked about nerve damage and I don't remember signing anything saying we did. My ortho is the one that told me that my neuropathy may be permanent because I had the damage so long. Who knows. My EMG was before surgery about 2 years ago. The surgeon said my nerve was tied in a knot. I'm 2 months post op of L4/L5, S1 fusion with two rods and 6 screws. Also the herniated disc surgery. He never told me L4 would be touched. When he got in there it needed it. Unfortunately there are no guarantees. I take Neurontin for the nerve pain. Not sure if it helps or not. My friend actually had her bowel punctured while the dr. was taking her ovary out. He didn't know he did it and she was sent home. She almost died. Had a colostomy bag. Was out of work for months. Needs hernia surgery now. Still has pain. She sued. After two years her case finally went to court in August and she lost. They found that what happened was a reasonable side effect of the surgery. Hope you feel better. Sorry about not being able to sue.

 
Old 11-09-2006, 03:10 PM   #8
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

Wow oh my gosh hessie -- that is terrible about your friend. Thanks for the input. I guess I just wanted to resolve it in my own mind and I'm still not sure I've done that. sometimes it's just still so...shocking...how it has all turned out. I keep thinking "someone should be responsible" but now I feel more like, it just is what it is and there is no-one to blame.

Has your nerve damage improved at all since the surgery? it must have been very tough to have the nerve be affected for so long. Four months is short though, as you know. How are you feeling?

 
Old 11-09-2006, 03:49 PM   #9
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

My numbness has improved some,but it will be 6 months on 11-29-06.
When I walk any it gets worse and not been able to get a straight answer from the Dr." Nerves take time to heal".
It is on left side of my left leg.
Hope evryone feels better.
Mary

 
Old 11-10-2006, 08:14 PM   #10
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is a hard one to be in. you do sign your life away with those papers before they do surgery and sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. If they didn't have those people would be sueing for all sorts of silly thigns and driving up the costs of medical bills. I am afraid to tell you that with any surgery there are risks involved and when dealing with the spine there are a lot of nerves involved as well. Did you have an emg before the surgery?? The reason I ask this is b/c I had a cervical fusion at 22. One of the reasons I had this test done is b/c I wanted to know if I had any nerve damage before the surgery. If you have a herniation....that disc is sitting on your nerves causing damage that is irreversable. once a nerve is damaged..it is damaged for good. So...you could have had a damaged nerve before the surgery and it might not have anythign to do with the surgery...and since some of the main problems disapperaed it could be the case. I did not have any nerve damage before my surgery..but after hearing that once the nerve is damaged it is damaged forever....I decided to have the surgery before I would get damage b/c I was showing signs of nerve problems (numbness, dropping things, etc). So....I agree that your case would not go very far in court unless you can prove you had no nerve damage before the surgery and that the surgeon didn't act in good faith.

 
Old 11-10-2006, 08:54 PM   #11
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

I did not have an EMG done before the surgery -- just a few rounds of MRI's. I was getting signs that the nerve was impinged, because the day I herniated it was the day I lost feeling in my butt. And it stayed that way for six weeks until I had the surgery.

the minute I woke up from the surgery I knew something was wrong. I still had no feeling in my butt, only now it was no feeling down the length of the entire right side, following the sciatic nerve. Couldnt feel toes, calf, outer thigh and butt.

When all is said and done, I know I didn't have a choice. If I didn't ahve the surgery I would have lost control of my bowels and all kinds of other terrible effects, so I don't regret the surgery. And it's only been lately that I've been thinking (mainly because other people always say "Oh my God that's so AWFUL!" when I tell them the real reason I walk with a limp) that it didn't have to be like this. But it is what it is and now I think I will move on, knowing that this nerve won't heal and there's not much I can do about it except to keep putting one (numb) foot in front of the other.

: )

 
Old 11-10-2006, 09:26 PM   #12
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

Goodluck with everything! I truly wish you the best! I know how hard some days can be and how frustrating doctors can be. Chronic problems are never fun and they are easily dismissed by doctors. Goodluck!!!

 
Old 11-11-2006, 08:44 AM   #13
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Re: Help! Surgery caused permanent nerve damage -- should I sue?

I had two surgeries in 4 months. The pain I'm in today is about the same as it was before surgery. (I do have an occassional good day). I take Neurontin every day but still am on vicodin and occassionally percocet. The doctor says there may be nerve damage. He said it could take as long as a year to get better or may never get better. He did personally warn me of all the the complications that could occur. So in the end the decision for surgery was informed. So I hobble along filled with meds to work every day. There are a lot of us out there, so hang in.

Last edited by technomom; 11-11-2006 at 08:45 AM.

 
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