Medical negligence compensation of $310,000 due to patients head slipping during surgery involving a Mayfield Head Holder

PUBLISHED 09 Sep 2013

Our client was on a public hospital waiting list for a posterior C3-7 fusion.

In June 2010 she was admitted to hospital where she underwent surgery by neurosurgeon, specifically she underwent a C3-6 laminectomy, a C7 laminectomy and a lateral mass C3 – 7 fusion. The surgery required our client’s head to be immobilised by the use of a “Mayfield Head Holder”. She was laid prone on the bed and the device, by use of pins, held the skull in place.

At some stage during surgery the brace slipped.

Our client woke from surgery with a large laceration on her head and stitches.

Following the operation the she spoke with a neurosurgeon who said to her words to the effect of: “Sorry, the brace slipped and that is why you have stitches in your head”. She was later diagnosed with myelomalaecia (softening of the spinal cord).

It was clear that the Hospital, including all hospital staff, owed our client a duty of care as she was under their care and direction for the purposes of treatment.

Firstly the harm that materialised being myelomalaecia caused by the head slipping from the neck base, was foreseeable and not insignificant. A person in the employ of the hospital therefore ought to have taken precautions to ensure that the head did not slip from the base.

We were able to obtain expert neurosurgeon evidence on behalf of our client demonstrating that her head slipped because it was not appropriately fixed within the “Mayfield Head Holder”.   In the opinion of the expert this would show that the Hospital deviated from accepted, competent professional practice.

Our expert was also able to show that as a result of our client’s head slipping that there was a major degree of movement, which seemed to be the case (as indicated by the size of the laceration), then this would have contributed to the occurrence of the myelomalaecia because of the weight of the head would have applied forces to the neck whilst the muscles were relaxed (due to the anaesthetic).   This would then allow a greater range of movement than would otherwise have occurred.

Our highly experienced medical negligence lawyer, Leslie Abboud, was able to negotiate a Verdict for the Plaintiff in the sum of $310,000.00 during a mediation, leaving the Plaintiff well satisfied with our efforts.

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