In this case an osteopath’s vigorous manipulations of a patient’s neck lead to a serious stroke, which became the subject of proceedings and a huge medical negligence compensation payout for our client.
Our client had a history of lower back pain. During 2007 and 2008 he consulted an osteopath and over time his condition improved. In April of 2112 his lower back pain had returned and on 8 May 2012 he consulted a second osteopath and voiced these concerns. This osteopath proceeded to vigorously manipulate and apply heavy pressure our client’s neck in an attempt to resolve his lower back pain. By 11 May 2012 out client had begun to notice that his speech was slurred, he was sensitive to light and that he would frequently experience paraesthesia. On the following day he experienced a complete loss of strength on the upper right side of his body and had begun to find it increasingly difficult to walk in a straight line.
He was admitted to hospital where he was diagnosed as having a stroke. He was quickly treated as an emergency before any further damage could be done. Nonetheless even after being treated at hospital promptly, much of the damage had already been done including speech, cognition and memory impairments. Furthermore, he experiences a diminished ability to attain his previous potential in his personal and professional affairs and finally, he struggles to perform physical tasks.
After an attempt to rehabilitate his body to the best of his ability, he approached Gerard Malouf and Partners to consider the possible relationship between the vigorous osteopathic treatment received and the stroke that he experienced soon after. Being a complex case, a senior solicitor with over 30 years of experience in the field took carriage of the matter. Having dealt with matters like this before, we advised our client of the relationship between neck manipulations and strokes. In order to prove that this is what happened to our client we obtained medical expert reports and opinions that highlighted the fact that vigorous neck manipulations in osteopathic or chiropractic services could tear an artery in the neck of a patient. This tear would result in a coagulation of blood which could eventually lead to a stroke. With this clear expert medical evidence, we briefed an expert Barrister in this matter and, in an attempt to obtain some solace for our grossly unfortunate client, aggressively pursued a mediation.
After negotiations between the parties at mediation this matter was settled for $450,000.00. This was a great result for the client and he was extremely pleased to receive this result in such a medically complex case. Furthermore the fact that the matter did not proceed to trial ensured that costs were kept at a reasonable amount and that out client was quickly able to move on with his life and continue to attempt to obtain treatment and rehabilitation to make the most of his unfortunate situation.
We hope settlements like these both encourage chiropractors and osteopaths to take more care when applying neck manipulations and bring awareness to their clients of the potential risks of obtaining any vigorous neck treatment.
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