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Man paralyzed by doctors wants to help eliminate hospital errors

Many people here in Illinois and elsewhere who file medical malpractice claims expect that the medical personnel and facilities where the mistakes occurred will change their policies and procedures to ensure that the same thing does not happen to someone else. Few people would go as far as one man has in order to help eliminate the same type of hospital errors that left him paralyzed. He is working with the hospital to improve the communication processes that contributed to his injury.

The man ended up in a wheelchair after doctors failed to listen to his fears that he had fractured his spine and also to document it in his medical records. He suffers from a condition called anklylosing spondylitis (AS), which is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by a brittle spine that could easily fracture and/or break. He fell out of bed on May 11, 2013 and went to the hospital the next day due to severe abdominal and back pain.

During that visit and three other visits, he told medical personnel about his AS and the fact that his spine could be fractured, but no one listened to him. The fracture appeared on the first images taken of his back, but it was missed by doctors. When he was finally taken in for an MRI, his back was broken as they manipulated him into the appropriate position. The hospital ultimately paid him $20 million and agreed to work with him to correct the problems that led to his paralysis.

Most Illinois residents might not go that far, but having some assurance that processes will be changed to protect future patients might provide victims of hospital errors with some closure. Before that could happen, however, evidence will have to be provided to the court that proves that the care received was not up to established standards. Any monetary restitution could be used to defray the financial losses incurred by the victim and/or his or her family.

Source: CNBC, "A hospital's mistake paralyzes a designer. He got $20M, and an unusual promise", Dan Mangan, June 19, 2016

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