A 46 year-old mother of six was admitted to the hospital for complaints of severe radiating neck pain and was to receive a neurosurgical consult.
The neurosurgeon did a cursory physical exam but decided to wait to do further evaluation until after MRI scans was received.
The scans were performed but the neurosurgeon did not follow up or review the results for 48 hours.
The scan had shown significant prevertebral soft tissue swelling and the radiologist reported a possible abscess.
No infectious process was ruled out and her prevertebral thickening continued to be unexplained.
Despite further clinical evidence of an infection, no action was taken by the neurosurgeon.
Further MRI studies taken two days later showed the same prevertebral thickening that correlated with her previous films and still no action was taken.
By the time she was transferred to another hospital and the failure to diagnose early, she was permanently quadriplegic as the infection had eroded her cervical spinal cord.
The medical malpractice claim was settled prior to the scheduled jury trial.
Read about a different case where surgery lead to paralysis here.