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Patient v. National HMO

In Patient v. National HMO (confidential venue and case number), Conor M. Kelly obtained a settlement totaling $2,850,000 on behalf of a 52-year-old man whose epidural abscess went undiagnosed resulting in paralysis below the waist. The plaintiff’s complaints began with a scraped leg that subsequently developed an MRSA infection and required surgery. Following surgery the patient had persistent leg pain which ultimately led to hospitalization during which severe lower back pain began. The hospitalist overseeing the patient ordered an MRI of the patient to check for possible epidural abscess, but the patient was unable to complete the MRI because lying flat exacerbated his pain. Rather than obtain an anesthesiologist to facilitate timely completion of the MRI, the hospitalist returned the patient to the hospital ward where the patient was given pain medications. By the time an MRI was finally completed, the patient had lost function in his legs. Defendant argued that the likelihood of infection was extremely low given the patient’s blood test results, but experts retained by Conor opined that a prompt MRI was the only method to rule out an epidural abscess. The case settled following mediation.

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