June 8, 2005
A physician, attempting a lumbar epidural steroid injection, stuck a patient twelve times before switching to a fluoroscopy approach. Immediately following the injection, the patient was paralyzed from the waist down, a common effect following an epidural. The doctor loosely monitored the patient throughout the day, and, when the paralysis persisted, sent the patient to the ER. There, a CT scan and MRI were taken, indicating spinal cord compression that would leave the patient permanently paralyzed. The Plaintiff alleged the anesthesiologist’s twelve sticks brought about the paralysis and if the physician had kept better watch over the patient, then steroids could have been administered to relieve the condition. Leading the defense, Gerald Toner argued that the paralysis was not brought about by the twelve sticks, but by an immediate segmental arterial infarction, and that no amount of subsequent care could have reversed the paralysis. A Jefferson County jury agreed with the defense, returning a verdict in favor of the anesthesiologist, and awarding the Plaintiff none of asked-for $5,000,000 in damages.