$8 Million Jury Verdict for Patient Paralyzed by Late Diagnosis of Postoperative Epidural Hematoma

Joyce Williamson was 73 years old when she underwent surgery to treat spinal cord compression caused from cervical stenosis. Cervical stenosis is a slowly progressing condition that impinges on the spinal cord section of the neck. It can be very painful.

Several days after her surgery, she complained of shoulder weakness and then underwent an MRI of the cervical spine. The results showed fluid collecting, but no compression of the spinal cord. Her condition worsened. Her rehabilitation physician contacted her treating neurosurgeon who was Dr. George Shanno.

Dr. Shanno evaluated Williamson several hours later and gave a different diagnosis of stroke or epidural hematoma. An epidural hematoma is the traumatic accumulation of blood between the tough outer membrane of the nervous system and the skull. An epidural hematoma would usually occur because of a sudden and blunt blow to the head or in the event of a skull fracture.

Several days later, Williamson underwent another MRI, which revealed the epidural hematoma compressing her spine. Despite surgery to remove the hematoma, she is now paralyzed. She has no function in her left leg, cannot walk and has reduced function of her left arm.

Williamson and her husband filed a lawsuit against Dr. Shanno, claiming that he chose not to timely diagnose and treat the postoperative cervical epidural hematoma by, among other things, ordering an MRI of the cervical spine 3 days earlier.

The jury entered its verdict of $8 million, reduced to $2 million, on the basis of the jury’s conclusion that there was just a 25% chance of a different outcome had the hematoma been diagnosed within 24 hours. In other words, the jury’s total verdict of $8 million was reduced by 75% to $2 million.

The attorneys representing the Williamson family were Jane Clark and Mary Pool. At trial, the counsel for the Williamsons presented experts in neurosurgery, primary care, neurology and life-care planning.

The defendants engaged experts in neurosurgery, neurology and life care planning.

Williamson v. Shanno, No. 14-2-01130-3 (Wash. Super. Ct. Clark County, Oct. 12, 2015).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases, birth trauma injury cases, traumatic brain injury cases, wrongful death cases and hospital negligence cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Cicero, Forest Park, Maywood, Northlake, Wood Dale, Villa Park, Palos Park, Orland Park, Robbins, Alsip, Harvey, Calumet Park, Blue Island, Grayslake, Crystal Lake, Prospect Heights, Northbrook, Northfield, Deerfield, Morton Grove, Chicago (Englewood, Gresham, Washington Heights, Riverdale, Pullman, Burnside, Chatham, Grand Crossing, Bridgeport, Canaryville, Bronzeville, Near Southside, Chinatown, Garfield Park, Ukrainian Village), Forest Park and Elmhurst, Ill.

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