A New York woman and her family have been awarded $56 million after surgeons performing one of the most common surgeries to fix back pain lost a piece of bone in her spinal sheath, misdiagnosed their own mistake, and left her quadriplegic.
In 2009, Patricia Jones went under the knife at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York, to get rid of her back and nerve pain at 56, so that she wouldn't be limited by her body.
But 24 hours after the surgery, she was unable to feel or move any of her limbs.
During the operation Dr George Alexander Jones and Dr Daniel Spitzer performed, a piece of bone somehow broke off and got lodged in sheath surrounding Patricia's spinal cord.
The trapped bone crushed part of the spinal cord, permanently damaging some of the nerve fibers, and leaving Patricia's arms and legs paralyzed.
Dr Jones and Dr Spitzer tried to blame the disastrous outcome of the surgery on a spinal stroke they claimed Patricia suffered in the OR - but a Rockland County judge disagreed, yesterday, and awarded the Joneses tens of millions for their agony.
A New York court awarded Patricia (left) and John (right) Jones $56 million after doctors botched Patricia's back surgery in 2009 and left the then-56-year-old quadriplegic
In a photo of Patricia, now 66, and her husband, John, she stands tall, smiling on a boat on a sunny day, under clear blue skies.
Today, Patricia would only be able to board that boat if it had a wheelchair ramp and John could come along to push her.
Back in 2009, Patricia was frustrated by the frequent tingling in her hands and feet and by the back pain that plagued her.
She sought the advice of a neurologist and was told that one of the most common spinal surgeries could alleviate her discomfort.
It was called a laminectomy, a relatively simple spinal procedure to alleviate pressure on the vertebrae by surgically removing a small piece of the bone over the spinal canal to give the nerves there a little more breathing room.
It's not without risks, but the mortality rate of the procedure is only about 0.13 percent and hundreds of thousands are performed every year.
Later, Patricia's attorney, Evan Torgan, would argue in the malpractice suit against the doctors that they should have first tried to treat Patricia with anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy.
But the neurologists skipped straight to surgery.
During surgeries like Patricia's, surgeons carefully monitor the fragile spine and spinal column.