Wrong Back Surgery Nets $2 Million Ruling

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 7:16am

A Roanoke, NC jury awarded a 38-year-old woman $2 million in a malpractice judgment against Carilion Clinic after hearing claims that a neurosurgeon performed the wrong type of surgery on her herniated discs, prolonging her pain. Carilion has asked that the verdict be reduced to a reasonable sum or that the court grant a new trial. The verdict will most likely be reduced at the very least to the state's malpractice cap of just under $1.93 million.

After a four-day trial in Roanoke Circuit Court, a jury found Carilion was negligent in its care of Tina Shupe for herniated discs. The case stems from treatment Shupe received in when she hurt her back lifting a bariatric bedside commode while working as a respiratory therapist at Wythe County Community Hospital.

She went to the emergency room at Wythe County with back pain and tingling in her leg. She was transferred to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for neurosurgical care. Shupe said the neurosurgeon, Dr. Zev Elias, performed an outdated surgical procedure and lessened her chance for recovery. Carilion, which employs Elias, maintained Elias did his job properly and said that Shupe's condition improved after surgery.

According to both sides, it is unlikely that even if Elias had done a different surgery, Shupe would have recovered fully. In 2008, Shupe saw another surgeon at the University of Virginia Health System who performed the surgery that Shupe argued should have been done by Elias.

In court documents Carilion said Shupe's argument that she would have had a better outcome had the second surgery been done in the first place was speculative.

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