When someone tells you they are a neurosurgeon, they tend to command your respect. They are considered some of the most skilled of all medical practitioners. When you put yourself in their care for spinal surgery, you expect their expertise and professionalism to shine through. You do not expect to come out worse than you went in, due to errors they made.
It may surprise you to know that neurosurgeons are more likely to suffer claims of medical malpractice than any other medical professional; one in five neurosurgeons will be claimed against in any given year.
The Journal of Neurosurgery investigated incidences of medical malpractice involving spinal injury between 1988 to 2015. The report classified cases as either catastrophic or non-catastrophic. Death, spinal cord injury and brain injuries due to oxygen deprivation were all considered catastrophic complications — anything else they ranked as a non-catastrophic complication.
Only 26.1% of overall cases brought were successful, with another 19.6% of cases settled out of court. However, if your claim is for catastrophic complications, you have a much higher chance of success, with 66.7% being successful. Awards made ranged between $134,000 to $38 million.
Proving medical malpractice requires a lengthy and detailed investigation by a legal team. The report found the average successful claim took over five years, with settlements taking closer to three years. When you consider that many spinal injuries will affect you for the rest of your life, you may decide five years is well worth it.