The spine is central to our ability to sense and function normally. As a result, spinal surgery is daunting, and dural tears during such surgery can have serious consequences. An incidental durotomy refers to small tears of the outer membrane of the spinal cord and is a common occurrence in spinal surgery. In some cases, the tear is unavoidable. In most cases in which a tear occurs, the surgeon will identify it and repair it in a second procedure without any long-term consequences to the patient. If the dural tear is undetected, however, it can cause serious health problems for a patient. If you or someone close to you has been injured due to a dural tear, it is important to reach out to a diligent Baltimore surgical error attorney who can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your harm.
A recent study, entitled Medical Malpractice Claims Following Incidental Durotomy Due to Spinal Surgery, examined the role of durotomy in malpractice cases. The study found that delayed diagnosis and treatment of durotomy and improper durotomy repair correlated with risk of malpractice lawsuits and increased surgeon liability. In other words, medical malpractice claims arose when dural tears were not discovered in time and led to spinal fluid leaks and other conditions. The findings highlighted that claims involving minor tears did not result in a settlement as often, whereas dural tears that led to neurological complications or even death were more likely to be successful.
Surgical mistakes denote errors that are avoidable with proper care. Under Maryland law, individuals who have suffered harm due to a spinal surgery error can typically seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice is defined as a medical professional’s failure to follow the accepted standard of care for their specialty, resulting in patient harm. In other words, surgery malpractice takes place when a surgeon causes harm because his or her conduct deviated from the standard of care that a prudent surgeon performing the same spinal cord surgery would have used under the same circumstances. As a result, if a surgeon fails to recognize a dural tear and then does not perform a second operation to fix it, that surgeon would likely be liable for malpractice.