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Chuck Eppolito Obtains Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case

November 1, 2011

Chuck Eppolito obtains a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case where the alleged failure to timely diagnose and treat a spinal fracture suffered by a 19-year-old mother during childbirth results in total disability.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant doctors deviated from the required standard of care in failing to investigate the cause of the pain or order diagnostic procedures, which would have revealed that the plaintiff sustained a fracture of her lower spine during childbirth, and could have been corrected surgically if it was discovered at that time rather than several months later.

The plaintiff also claimed that she is permanently disabled as a result of on-going, severe low back pain stemming from the delay in diagnosis and treatment as well as the birth of her second child, which exacerbated the spinal injury sustained in the first delivery. The plaintiff’s doctor testified that the plaintiff will require narcotic pain medication for the remainder of her life.

The defendants argued that the plaintiff suffered an uncommon, but known complication of childbirth which was timely recognized by the defendant doctors. The defendants contended that they documented a working diagnosis of suspected spinal fracture. The defense argued that conservative treatment – consisting of heat or ice, pain medication, a donut or cushion to sit on and time to heal – was appropriately followed by the defendants. 

Additionally, the defendant’s experts opined that earlier x-rays would not have altered the treatment since the plaintiff was not a surgical candidate and there would have been high risks involved, including bleeding and hemorrhage, which far outweighed the potential benefits to the plaintiff.

The defense contended the testimony from the defendant doctors and the plaintiff’s medical records did not support the plaintiff’s claim that she complained of low back pain or coccyx pain at every post-delivery visit. The defendants testified that the plaintiff sometimes complained of this pain, but other times voiced unrelated complaints.

The jury found that the defendants were not negligent. 

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