Patient Suicide: $2.88M Verdict against Pain Clinic That Treated Back Pain

April 18, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​A Kansas jury has held two physicians and a pain clinic liable for the death of a patient who killed himself after allegedly suffering from an antibiotic-resistant infection caused by injections intended to reduce chronic back pain, according to an April 6, 2014, article from the Kansas City Star. In May 2008, the 40-year-old patient was injected with medication intended to reduce his pain. He returned for another treatment in December. When the treatments failed to alleviate his pain, the patient returned in January 2009, at which time he was treated by another physician at the clinic because his treating physician was on vacation. The injection did not relieve the patient's pain, although he did notice a lump appearing where the needle had pierced his skin. He returned to the facility for another injection and told a nurse about the lump. The nurse informed the patient that his physician said it was not a problem. The physician said that he did not recall treating the patient other than what was recorded in the clinic's medical records, which did not mention a lump on the patient's back. The patient's condition deteriorated quickly after the final injection. Thinking he had the flu, the patient complained of a stiff neck and aching in his back and legs, with extreme pain in his head. His girlfriend called a nurse helpline and was told that her boyfriend had symptoms of meningitis. She visited his house and took him to the emergency department, where he was diagnosed with meningitis caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

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