Misdiagnosis of Neck Injury Causes Permanent Disability

Louis Prager sustained serious injury in a vehicle rollover accident on December 9, 2008. The emergency medical technicians who arrived at the scene placed a neck brace around his neck and immobilized Mr. Prager on a backboard. Mr. Prager was then rushed by ambulance to Campbell County Memorial Hospital. Mr. Prager’s lack of adequate care soon translated to tragedy. His story was chronicled in an Associated Press report.

Misdiagnosis of Neck Injury Causes Permanent DisabilityEmergency Room Visit

Mr. Prager was rolled into the emergency room on a backboard wearing a neck brace. The emergency room staff was informed that he had been involved in a rollover vehicle accident and that his chief complaint was neck pain. However, the attending physician, Dr. Cullison, did not perform a physical exam or request x-rays of Mr. Prager’s neck. Dr. Cullison did, however, order x-rays for his back and head. The doctor assured Mr. Prager that he did not sustain any broken bones, and released him from Campbell County Memorial Hospital.

Four days after the accident, Mr. Prager returned to Campbell County Memorial Hospital because he had lost the use of his left shoulder and arm. During his examination, it was discovered that he had sustained multiple spine fractures and a broken neck. Mr. Prager required emergency neck surgery. Because Dr. Cullison had failed to properly examine and diagnose Mr. Prager’s injuries at the time of the accident, Mr. Prager suffered permanent damage.

Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

According to the Mayo Clinic, several signs and symptoms indicate the possibility of a broken neck or a spinal cord injury:

  • Pain or pressure in the neck, back or head
  • Paralysis or weakness in a part of the body
  • Lack of bowel or bladder control
  • Difficulty walking or lack of balance
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Twisted back or neck

In addition, it is important that any patient who has experienced considerable trauma to the neck or head be evaluated for a possible spinal injury. The Mayo Clinic recommends treating trauma victims as if they have sustained a spinal injury until it can be proven that the spine is not injured.

Shocking Denial

The hospital and Dr. Cullison indicated in court records that a person who experienced a rollover accident and complained of neck pain should not receive x-rays of the neck. Both also denied that Dr. Cullison had failed to perform an examination of Mr. Prager’s neck. However, Dr. George Shaw, the defendant’s expert, admitted under cross-examination that if Dr. Cullison had examined Mr. Prager’s neck, the nerves in his neck would have caused severe pain upon exam. At that point, x-rays would have been required.
Mr. Prager is now confined to home most of the time because of his severe pain and permanent disability because of the doctor’s negligence. The complications resulting from the misdiagnosis of his initial injury on that fateful day impair his ability to perform daily tasks.

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If you or someone you know is suffering with a neck or spinal injury that was not properly diagnosed, contact our experienced attorneys today to find out if you are eligible for compensation. We offer a free consultation during which we will discuss your legal rights and options.

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