$850,000: Misguided Epidural Needle Causes Woman Partial Paralysis To Legs

CASE DESCRIPTION: Plaintiff Mrs. Doe underwent a scheduled hysterectomy. As a result of an improperly administered epidural anesthesia she experienced partial paralysis and other neurological injuries in both lower extremities. The Defendant disputed fault.

RESULT: $850,000.00 total settlement

Plaintiff Mrs. Doe was a 39 year old woman, who was scheduled to undergo a hysterectomy. Mrs. Doe underwent her pre-surgery examination and at the same time, discussed anesthesia with her physician and was under the impression that general anesthesia was going to be administered during the surgery. Dr. Roe (anesthesiologist) contended that at the time of the surgery, Plaintiff Mrs. Doe was in pre-op, and he discussed anesthesia with Plaintiff. Dr. Roe contended that at that time Plaintiff Mrs. Doe gave her consent for administration of an epidural anesthesia along with “twilight drugs” to induce sleep. Plaintiff Mrs. Doe under went an uneventful hysterectomy surgery.

After surgery, Mrs. Doe woke up and felt that she was unable to feel her lower extremities or move them. This continued to last, and ultimately it was determined by neurologic work-up in the following days that she had sustained neurologic injury, which caused her to have partial paralysis and parapresis (sensory loss) of both lower extremities. She subsequently underwent numerous neurologic tests, EMG studies, nerve conduction studies, etc. She went through intensive rehab. Ultimately it was determined that she had sustained some form of spinal cord injury at the level of L2 or higher. Plaintiff contended that the epidural needle went subdural, (as opposed to epidural) and entered the arachnoid space (the space that contains the spinal cord) and came into contact with either the spinal cord, the conus, or the cuada equina.

Defendant Dr. Roe contended that there was no evidence of actual injury to the spinal cord, conus or cuada equine. They also contended that there was no evidence of entry into the subarachnoid or even the subdural space. Defendant Dr. Roe instead contended that the injury in this case would have been caused by some form of idiosyncratic response or allergic reaction to the epidural medication itself. This led to some type of ischemic reaction causing vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels leading to muscular spasm) or other constriction on the neurologic structures of the spinal cord (thereby leading to the injury).

TYPE OF CASE: Medical Malpractice; Loss of consortium

INJURIES: Plaintiff Mrs. Doe suffered partial paralysis and sensory loss of both lower extremities and Mr. Doe had a claim for loss of consortium.


PLAINTIFF’S AGE: Ms. Doe – 39 at time of incident


Richard A. Cohn
For Plaintiffs – Mr. & Mrs. Doe

For Defendant – Roe, M.D.