Dr. Greg Vigna comments on hospitals’ failure to diagnose spinal cord injuries, leading to catastrophic repercussions for the patient.

“Approximately 50% of patients who sustained a spinal cord injury that were misdiagnosed by hospital personnel will result in neurological deterioration.” – Greg Vigna, MD, JD

The primary reasons for a failure to diagnose a spinal cord injury cited in the literature include the following:

  1. Missed radiographic findings on X-ray and CT scan,
  2. Impair cognition of injured because of intoxication, brain injury, or other serious injuries,
  3. Improper removal of cervical collars without a reasonable exam or diagnostic imaging, and
  4. Failure to provide a careful physical exam and functional exam.

A study from England revealed that the average delay in diagnosis of a spinal cord injury from initial presentation to medical professionals was four days and rarely was the failure to diagnose caused by one failure but resulted from a failure across multiple providers including EMT (emergency medical transportation personnel), triage nurses, emergency room physicians, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and nurses.

“Nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists must sound the alarm when physicians make diagnostic errors, and most of the time the errors are obvious.” — Dr. Greg Vigna

Dr. Greg Vigna, spinal cord injury physician, national pharmaceutical injury attorney, national neurological injury attorney, and Certified Life Care Planner states, “Missed spinal cord injuries rarely are caused by one error but multiple failures where medical professionals are not applying independent professional judgment. Unfortunately, we are seeing hospitals cutting costs to increase profits by moving to models that have nurse practitioners and physician assistants doing much of the work in emergency rooms and on the medicine/surgical floors so patient-physician contact is limited to a few brief encounters.”

Dr. Vigna adds, “Missed spinal cord injuries do occur in cases where there are multiple serious injuries, and a patient is unresponsive but should never happen in a patient who is alert, oriented, and can participate in a meaningful physical exam that is combined with walking and other functional tasks such as dressing, toileting, and activities of daily living. Nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists must sound the alarm when physicians make diagnostic errors, and most of the time the errors are obvious.”

Dr. Vigna concludes, “My attorney team understands that failure to timely diagnose a spinal cord injury that results in neurological deterioration is a much stronger better case than those who have suffered adverse outcomes during surgical treatments. But given the severe disability and cost of future care, every spinal cord injury should be evaluated by a spinal cord injury attorney to look at the medical care provided and the circumstances related to the injury as defective products such as car tires, defective roads, and numerous other factors may have contributed to the cause of injury which may bring in defendants with sufficient insurances that may provide necessary financial relief for the injured.”

Greg Vigna, MD, JD, is a California and Washington DC lawyer who focuses on catastrophic neurological injuries cause by the vaginal mesh, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, brachial plexus injuries, and medical malpractice. He is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
The Vigna Law Group is a national neurological injury law firm and national pharmaceutical injury law firm that co-counsels with leading trial attorneys across the country to achieve justice.

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Greg Vigna, MD, JD
Vigna Law Group
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