Durotomy is a type of complication that many lumbar spine surgery patients experience when the dura, or the thick membrane that surrounds their spinal cord, is torn. A study published in June in the medical journal Spine highlights just how often it is that incidental durotomy injuries are to blame in medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the United States.
Of a total of 48 cases reviewed, 87.6 percent of the victims alleged that they’d suffered neurological impairments as a result of their durotomy injuries. In just over 56 percent of all these cases, the juries charged with deciding if the doctors were indeed negligent ultimately decided that they weren’t.
Juries decided that doctors didn’t engage in negligence in at least 83 percent of the cases in which plaintiffs alleged other injuries than neurological deficits.
Nearly 44 percent of all plaintiffs received a delayed diagnosis of durotomy. Patients who filed lawsuits underwent additional surgeries in just over 56 percent of all cases. At least 23 percent of all plaintiffs that underwent durotomy repair alleged that the procedure was performed improperly.
Researchers on the study also concluded that those who either underwent improperly performed durotomy procedures or received a delayed diagnosis tended to have a more favorable outcome than others. Nearly 73 percent of those who had an improper repair performed recovered successfully. At least 62 percent of those who received a delayed diagnosis had a positive outcome as well.
Plaintiffs won just over 35 percent of all cases in which they alleged injury and had a successful durotomy repair procedure performed on them. Just under 30 percent of those plaintiffs who received a timely durotomy diagnosis won their malpractice cases.
The average settlement was $2.7 million in incidental durotonomy cases reviewed.
When an individual undergoes spinal surgery, there are various complications that can result. Whether or not a doctor followed established protocol in performing the procedure can greatly impact whether he or she can be held liable for unintended injuries that a patient suffers. In reviewing your medical records, a Chicago medical malpractice attorney can advise you whether liability is clear in your case.