Patient sues GW, alleging ‘unnecessary’ neurosurgery caused permanent injuries

A patient is suing the University, Medical Faculty Associates and the GW Hospital for medical negligence that inflicted her with several permanent injuries in 2017.

In an 11-page complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court last week, Claudia Mejia alleges District Hospital Partners, the majority owner of GW Hospital, violated national standards of care when two neurosurgeons damaged the patient’s nervous and muscular systems during surgery. The patient is suing for $20 million, alleging doctors should have waited to receive test results that would have revealed the patient did not have the condition the surgery addresses.

“This medical negligence case arises from the failure to wait for lab results before proceeding with unnecessary, overly aggressive and improperly executed surgical procedures on the brain and upper cervical cord of a young woman, which resulted in severe neurologic injuries rendering her permanently disabled,” the complaint states.

University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal, MFA spokeswoman Barbara Porter and GW Hospital spokeswoman Susan Griffiths did not return requests for comment.

Health care workers at the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center transferred the patient to GW Hospital on Feb. 2, 2017 after she experienced neurologic deficiencies on the left side of her body, including muscle weakness and numbness, according to the complaint. The patient alleges GW Hospital documented her as “neurologically stable” with minor left-sided weakness each day she was treated until Michael Rosner – who is also listed as a defendant – performed brain and spinal surgery Feb. 6.

The lawsuit states the patient tested positive for neurocysticercosis – a tapeworm infection that can damage the brain or muscles – four days after the operation, which the lawsuit states indicated she did not need to undergo surgery and should have instead received “medical therapy” to treat her infection.

Rosner did not return a request for comment.

Another patient sued Rosner last month, alleging his surgery led to respiratory issues and skin tears in 2017.

The lawsuit states GW Hospital workers said they performed the surgery because of a “progressive history of severe neurologic deficits,” but the patient argues that description did not match the state of her condition at the time of the surgery.

The lawsuit states the patient underwent several “profound” injuries to her right side following the surgery. On a scale that measures muscle strength from 0 to 5, doctors gave the patient 0s in numerous categories of upper and lower right-sided “extremity muscle testing,” whereas the same muscles had been given 5s for full strength before the operation, according to the lawsuit.

GW Hospital’s neurosurgeons found the patient had instability in the junction between her skull and neck a week after the surgery and recommended the patient undergo a second surgery, in which surgeons implanted more “significant hardware” that limited motion in the patient’s head and neck, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states the patient experienced new bladder and bowel issues after she moved to a rehabilitation facility at GW Hospital in March of that year.

The lawsuit states the patient’s injuries left her “disabled and unable to work,” and caused “physical, mental and emotional pain, suffering and distress.”

The patient alleges surgeons failed to notify her of potential alternatives to her treatment, in which the patient would await test results for neurocysticercosis. Hospital workers never told the patient of a “medical therapy” alternative and the risks associated with performing surgery, the lawsuit states.

“Any reasonable person in plaintiff’s position would not have consented to undergoing risky, aggressive and unnecessary surgical procedures if she/he had been provided with the requisite information or if she/he had received proper informed consent,” the complaint states.

The patient could not be reached for comment, and Denis Mitchell, the patient’s attorney, declined to comment on the case. Gerard Mitchell and Christopher Mitchell, the other attorneys representing the patient, did not return requests for comment.

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