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Dozens Of Malpractice Claims For Spinal Procedures Gone Wrong

Patients with back pain will do whatever they can for relief from chronic pain. A number of patients in New Mexico thought they were getting relief for back pain from a doctor with spinal procedures. However, they later found out that the procedures were not safe or effective. 

Multiple Malpractice Claims Against Alamogordo Hospital

Dr. Christian Schlicht was an anesthesiologist who conducted hundreds of spinal procedures for patients with back and spinal problems. The procedure involved using a plexiglas-like cement to provide cushioning in the spine. However, the cement was not safe and seeped into other areas before hardening or cracked into pieces. 

According to reports, Dr. Schlicht used fraudulent credentials to operate on patients. Schlicht even admitted to another doctor that some of his neurosurgery training was falsified. The hospital’s CEO was warned by outside physicians that the bone cement procedures were not safe. The CEO was also made aware that the creator of the procedures, Dr. Schlicht was not qualified to perform the procedures. 

There were plenty of signs that Schlicht’s procedures were questionable but the procedures were lucrative for the hospital. An OR nurse came forward and reported Schlicht to a supervisor but she was told to stay quiet. A health insurance company refused to pay for the procedures and questioned Schlicht’s credentials. 

Molina Healthcare had reviewed a case involving a patient who reported the loss of motor and sensory function after the spinal cementing procedure and said the surgery appeared to be outside of Schlicht’s scope of practice. Molina said the procedure was a violation of acceptable medical practice and was worried about patient safety. The hospital failed to address the issue and instead threatened legal action. 

In total, about 80 patients file malpractice claims for damages, forcing the hospital into bankruptcy protection. Patients complained of chronic pain, loss of bladder function, loss of bowel control, and partial paralysis. The case was eventually settled for more than $33 million. 

Spinal Cord Procedures and Malpractice Injuries

The spinal cord is a very sensitive structure made up of nervous tissue. The spinal cord is protected by meninges, or layers of tissue around the central canal. Surrounding the spinal cord are the bones of the spinal column. The spinal column is somewhat flexible, allowing for movement while providing protection to the spinal cord. 

Medical errors during spinal surgery can damage the spinal cord. Damage to the spinal cord can occur during anesthesia, childbirth, back surgery, or spinal surgery. Bleeding in and around the spinal cord can also cause spinal cord hemorrhage, which puts pressure on the spinal cord and can cause permanent injury. 

Unfortunately for many medical negligence victims, the damage from a negligent spinal surgery may not become known until years later. It can take months or years before the mistakes become evident, leaving the injury victim with continuing pain and requiring corrective surgery.  

If you have questions about a medical mistake, contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation. Fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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