One of our clients was rear-ended by a semi-truck traveling at a speed of 60 mph when the driver failed to stop at a red light. At the time of the incident, he was in the course and scope of his employment as a police officer with the local police department. The driver of the semi-truck was cited for speeding.
Our client was taken from the scene of the accident by EMS with complaints of upper back pain. While at the local emergency room, x-rays were taken which revealed that he had not suffered a fracture, he was discharged with back pain/strain of the thoracic spine.
A few days after the accident our client saw his family physician, with continuing complaints of upper to lower back pain. The doctor reviewed the films and determined that an MRI was not warranted at that point in time. He gave him a prescription for muscle relaxers and pain relievers and to return in two weeks. At the second appointment, our client reported increased pain and symptoms of anxiety and stress stemming from the pain levels and in the inability to get relief. The doctor continued to treat our client’s complaints very conservatively.
Our client then began a physical therapy regimen where he initially reported to his therapist difficulties with physical activities he was experiencing and the significant amount of pain that was constant. After six sessions, the therapist suspended the physical therapy treatment as there is a concern that he is not experiencing any pain relief and that there may be something more serious happening.
Due to concerns expressed by Andy’s physical therapist, Dr. Knieriem refers Andy to undergo an MRI of the lumbar spine which reveals a large disc herniation at L5-S1 with nerve root sleeve compression. Andy is immediately sent to Dr. Michael Healy of the Neurosurgical Network for a treatment assessment. Dr. Healy recommended that Andy undergo a microdiscectomy at L5-S1 as soon as possible.
Andy’s surgery was scheduled and completed at St. Luke’s Hospital at the hands of Dr. Michael Healy. Shortly thereafter, he returned to see Dr. Knieriem about continuing and increasing anxiety and symptoms of depression. He reported feelings of euphoria, racing thoughts, sleeplessness, and irritability. At the same time, Andy experienced an increase in pain in his lower back and it was noted in Dr. Healy’s charts that fluid had collected in the thecal region and an MRI was completed which showed a residual L5-S1 disc herniation.
Surgical repair of the recurrent disc at L5-S1 was performed by Dr. Healy at St. Luke’s Hospital, after the pain following the first operation became unbearable. Andy was kept overnight and discharged home with strict instructions not lift more than 1 to 2 lbs for at least two weeks, no driving for one week and he was not released to work until further instruction from Dr. Healy. A subsequent MRI at St. Luke’s Hospital performed which showed increases in fluid in the thecal sac. Due to increased pain levels, Andy was given a prescription for morphine and told to return to Dr. Healy.
Andy’s unsatisfactory surgical repairs with Dr. Healy prompted him to seek a second opinion so he transferred his care to The University of Toledo Medical Center where he initially consulted with Dr. Nabil Ebraheim. He reported on his visit that he had trouble ambulating and urinating following the first surgery and was experiencing pain radiating from the left side of his lower back into both legs. A CT scan was obtained which revealed a recurrent focal central disc protrusion at the L4-L5 level indenting the anterior thecal sac. Dr. Ebraheim referred Andy to the care of Dr. Elgafy at UTMC for further treatment options.
Dr. Elgafy attempted to treat Andy’s ongoing chronic pain with pain management medication but that treatment was unsuccessful. Andy relayed his bouts of depression and anxiety to Dr. Elgafy with reported sleep disturbances. Epidural injections were attempted but again did not bring Andy any relief. Andy then underwent a third surgery on his L5 left-sided pars fracture and a post-L5-S1 microdiscectomy, this involved a review of the fusion operation which was performed by Dr. Healy.
Following the operation, Andy has undergone a course of physical therapy which did bring minimal relief. He continues to routinely follow-up with Dr. Elgafy at UTMC but does not have a clear course of treatment for the chronic pain he experiences. Due to an undocumented suicide attempt (witnessed by Andy’s spouse), he began psychological treatment with Dr. Daniel J. Kuna.
DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients’ cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case.