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Court to Decide Who is Liable for Medical Procedure that Left Patient in Wheelchair

medical malpracticeOur medical malpractice lawyers in Raleigh wanted to bring attention to an out-of-state case involving a botched medical procedure. This particular malpractice victim must live the rest of his life paralyzed. Learn more about the medical error, the hospital's payout, and future claims:

Almost 30 years ago, Larry Schultz was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The one-time nuclear pharmacist underwent corrective therapies but nothing helped. In 2006, Schultz, then 56, drove to a hospital for a spinal injection to relieve chronic muscle cramping around his spinal column.

A medical resident injected Baclofen as well as tracer drug Reno-60 into Schultz’s spine. However, on the Reno-60 label, the warning said it was not to be injected into the spinal fluid, according to court records. The result was neurological damage, including three fractured vertebrae that has confined Schultz to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Baclofen was designed in the 1920s to treat epilepsy. Its effect was disappointing but it did decrease spasticity in some patients. A simple Internet search of Reno-60 shows that serious reactions include: Death, convulsions, cerebral hemorrhage, coma, paralysis, arachnoiditis, acute renal failure, cardiac arrest, seizures, rhabdomyolysis, hyperthermia and brain edema.

The hospital's insurer paid Schultz $1 million, but Schultz's lawyer filed a lawsuit which is being heard by a county court judge.

Since the surgical procedure error, a local organization which provides coverage in medical malpractice cases filed a counterclaim of negligence against the hospital, claiming the hospital did not properly train and supervise personnel, and thus, should be partially liable for monetary damages. 

As Medical Bills Mount, Court to Decide Who Pays

But a lawyer for the hospital filed a motion asking the fund's claim be dismissed. Anne Kearney noted the fund cannot file legal claims against hospitals in malpractice cases. If the claim was allowed in court, she said it would "destabilize" a system the legislature created to process malpractice cases. 

The local organization's lawyers maintain the hospital was negligent in training and supervising staff conducting Schultz’s botched procedure and should pay damages from its general liability insurance fund.

Schultz’s medical bills have exceeded $2 million, and court records maintain costs could climb to $6 million.