Woman claims spine surgery left her paralyzed, sues doctor

Kelly Holleran Apr. 18, 2011, 4:29pm

A woman who was left a quadriplegic following spinal surgery has filed suit against the surgeon and medical facilities she blames for her condition.

Wyoming Newman and her husband, Michale, filed a lawsuit April 11 in Jefferson County District Court against Dr. Erwin Lo, Golden Triangle Neurocare and Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas.

Had doctors treated Newman differently before and following her spinal surgery, she would still have the use of her arms and legs, the lawsuit alleges.

Initially, Newman visited a neurosurgeon, Dr. Chavis, following an automobile accident in 2007. At that appointment, Dr. Chavis performed an MRI and recommended Newman undergo a certain type of spinal surgery called an anterior discectomy and fusion.

The result of Dr. Chavis' MRI were forwarded to defendant Dr. Lo, who agreed to perform the surgery on Newman on Jan. 28, 2009, -- more than one year after the initial MRI, according to the complaint. However, the suit alleges Dr. Lo failed to properly interpret the MRI results and performed a corpectomy instead of taking Chavis' recommendations, the suit states.

As a result, Newman woke up with no feeling in her legs and a weak sensation in her arms, the complaint says.

Immediately after the surgery, Newman claims Dr. Lo potentially could have reversed the quadriplegia by treating it quickly, however, Dr. Lo waited until the following day to order a CT scan, which revealed a posterior bar was compressing Newman's spinal cord, according to the complaint.

"Because he did not order the CT scan and therefore did not discover the continued compression and fluid collection, Mrs. Newman continued to have compression on her spinal cord which, more likely than not, caused her quadriplegia," the suit states.

Following the first surgery, Dr. Lo elected to perform a second operation on Jan. 29, 2009, the complaint says. However, Newman claims she continued to suffer from quadriplegia and needed a spinal drain. To this day, she remains a quadriplegic, according to the complaint.

Because of her condition, Newman lost earnings due to her inability to continue her occupation as a medication aid and suffered physical pain and mental anguish, the suit states. In addition, she incurred medical costs and suffered physical impairment and disfigurement, the complaint says.

Newman's husband, Michael Newman, claims he lost his wife's household services and lost her solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, sexual relations, emotional support, love and felicity.

Newman blames Golden Triangle Neurocare for causing her injuries, saying it was guilty of a number of negligent acts, including its failure to order a current MRI, its failure to properly read the MRI, its choice to operate on someone without first obtaining new radiographic studies, its election to perform one surgery instead of a recommended one and its failure to take action on the day Newman lost feeling in her arms and legs.

Defendant Baptist Hospital is also negligent because of its failure to properly assess and monitor Newman following her surgery and its failure to go up the chain of command when Dr. Lo elected not to take immediate action, according to the complaint.

In their complaint, the Newmans seek a judgment within the jurisdictional limits of Jefferson County District Court, plus pre- and post-judgment interest at the legal rate, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Clay Dugas and Mike Jacobellis of Clay Dugas and Associates in Beaumont will be representing them.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. E189-751

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