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What Happens When Herniated Disc Surgery Goes Wrong?

When a person suffers from a slipped disc, it can lead to excruciating pain. Something as simple as a “minor” back injury could actually be a slipped disc or a herniated disc.

When a patient is diagnosed with a herniated disc, he or she may schedule a surgical procedure called a discectomy. During the procedure, the surgeon removes any damaged part of the discs that are pushing against the spine and causing chronic pain for the patient. About half a million of these surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year, but surgeons can make costly mistakes that would create additional problems for the patients.

What types of mistakes can occur during disc surgery?

There are plenty of risks to surgery, and any procedures performed on or around the spine are especially risky. The surgeon could unintentionally damage the spinal cord or the nerves surrounding it. There have been times when surgeons worked on the wrong discs, leading to additional or exacerbated pain. Patients could also develop an infection, or suffer from leaking spinal fluids.

Not all errors are made by surgeons, either. If doctors, nurses, or other medical personnel make a dosage error when it comes to anesthesia, or fail to keep a patient under observation long enough to determine if he or she is safe to go home, the patient is at risk.

The effects of surgical errors

Although it depends on the specific type of mistake made during the surgical procedure, several things can happen:

  • The patient can be paralyzed
  • The patient may lose all sensation in the area of the surgery
  • The patient may develop scarring which further compresses his or her discs
  • The patient’s pain level may remain the same, or may even increase
  • The patient may need revision surgeries

Though discectomies are fairly common, “common” does not always mean “safe.” One of the most serious risks is a spinal epidural abscess: an infection between the bones of the spinal column and the membranes which surround the spinal cord. Failure to diagnose and treat this condition can lead to paralysis. In 2018, Harris Lowry Manton LLP secured a record-setting $18 million verdict on behalf of a client who was paralyzed after her abscess went undiagnosed and untreated.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States will undergo surgery for a herniated disc each year in an attempt to get rid of the pain they cause. While these procedures are performed regularly and are often successful, there is a chance that things can go wrong. If medical negligence led to additional or exacerbated injuries, Harris Lowry Manton LLP may be able to help. To speak with one of our Georgia medical malpractice attorneys, please call us at 404-961-7650 in Atlanta or 912-651-9967 in Savannah, or fill out our contact form.


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