Internist Who Had Trouble Contacting Neurosurgeon about Patient's Postoperative Weakness Not Liable

March 10, 2021 | Strategic Insights for Health System


After a patient who had undergone neck surgery began to experience numbness, weakness, and tingling, a consulting internist and a nurse spent 15 minutes trying to contact the neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon did not come to see the patient until the next day, by which time a hematoma compressing the patient's cervical spine had caused quadriparesis. In a lawsuit against the consulting internist following settlement with the neurosurgeon, the Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, has affirmed judgment in favor of the internist, based on a jury's finding that the internist was not liable.

On November 14, 2013, the neurosurgeon performed surgery on the patient's neck. The neurosurgeon had asked the defendant internist to help manage the patient's preexisting diabetes and hypertension during his time in the hospital. The afternoon of the surgery, the patient began to show symptoms consistent with spinal compression. At 4:30 p.m., hospital staff called the neurosurgeon and informed him that the patient had numbness. The patient began to have weakness in his extremities, and at about...

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