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Is it possible for a surgeon to accidentally go in at the L1 when the surgery is for L4-5

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
When I went into surgery I never saw my doctor, they had put me out, the surgery was suppose to take 1 1/2 hours, about 2 hours into surgery ( this is for a discectomy on L4-L5) the doctor went to the waiting room and apologized to my husband that he went in at the L1-2 and there was nothing wrong with the disc so he was taking xrays to find the bad discs, so back to surgery he went, I woke up in recovery in the worst pain ever in my life, it was hard for them to bring me too , I was in too much pain, I was fighting it. When I was in my room the next day the doctor came in and apologized to me for going in at the L1-2 and he said there was nothing wrong with those disc so he took xrays, he balmed it on that I am a big girl and it was hard to find the L4-L5...I am 5'7 and weigh 185, size 11, I am not obese or anything, but he is a spine specialist, is it possible to go to the L1 instead of the L4-5, I do not understand how that can be possible, unless he thought he was doing surgery on the L1-2....I only saw him 1 time before the sugery his PA handled all my appts and took notes for him. I called an attorney and he said he could not represent me because he is a good friend of the doctor, so when I went to get my staples out the doctor asked me why I was telling EVERYBODY that he cut into the wrong section of my spine and then he said that is not true. For a discectomy on the L$-5 I have an icision about 7-8 inches long and had 25 staples...should my incision have been a lot smaller then that??? Thanks for the help people, I am really confused. On 8/29/05 I fell of a surgical table, the bolt snapped and I was post op 4 days, they were remiving stiches, that doctor promised to take care of me, my 1st mistake was not calling an attorney then, now that I know I am injured from that fall I called him and his insurance comapny sent me a letter denying my claim because of the statue of limitations, so I left them a message today asking about the claus in the statue regaring not knowing about the injury until after the statue ran out, I did not know I was injured, this is all a big laugh on me for the doctors, now I know not to trust a doctor again.


  • WOW! what an amazing story.

    It sounds as though they made a bit of an error.
    I suggest you find a new doctor and start again.

    A 6 inch scar doesn't sound right for a disectomy - perhaps he got your case totally confused with someone else. Thats no excuse.

    I guess once you are all gowned in greens, body swabbed in Iodine and then a small piece if left exposed, it is easy to mistake the section you are working on, but our anatomy on L1 is different to L5/S1 - where was your sacrum?!

    I am sure others will add their opinion too. Good Luck finding a new doc.
  • I would call another lawyer asap and never let that doc touch you again. I have never heard anything like this in my life and then to try and blame you. You are not obese at 5'7" 185. He is a terrible surgeon and something needs to be done so he doesn't hurt someone else. Don't take this situation lightly. You may be the one to save someone in the future from being crippled let alone dealing with a botched surgery that you went through.

    I am so sorry to hear this. Did he even fix the L4-5 later on?
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  • Those lawyers! try some out of town lawyers that are less likely to know him. Malpractice cases are very difficult to prove because these quacks know how to cover their paper trail so it may be hard but you will find someone to represent you. My husband was in ICU back in 98 and had a doc almost kill him. If I had not fired that doc I am positive that my husband would not be alive today. All the nurses and orderlys in that hospital had nicknamed this guy Dr. Death a long time before oyr ordeal. After the 3 month ordeal I contacted an attorney. The attorney told me that he had heard tons of complaints against this guy but the guy was so good at covering his tracks and paper trail that nothing could be proved. Well, being totally worn out from the ordeal and greatful that my husband was alive, I let it go. it still really haunts me though because I saw so many patients die under his care while I was living in the ICU waiting room. And he was just a great showman (actor) that lots of folks had much faith in him just like I did at first. Sorry to go on and on, but yes, please persue this you may save a life or two.
  • Did this doctor just open the skin at L1-2 or did he actually disect the muscles and such all the way to the disc before he realized what he had done? My surgeon uses an intraoperative O-arm (others use C-arm) to check for the correct level before he starts the surgery. He also drew a lot of lines on my back mapping out the different levels.
    Prior to surgery the OR team is suppose to call a time out to check and mark the correct site. There is even special paperwork they have to sign that they have done this. It is required by JCAHO, the hospital accredidation commission.

    It sounds like that attorney you went to talked to the surgeon after you went to him. That is just wrong. Isn't there confidentiallity laws for attorneys just like medical personnel?! Have you obtained a copy of your medical records with OR reports? I am curious what he documented as far as the procedure.

    I have 2 friends that have had discectomy and their incisions are about 2 inches long. My fusion incision is 6 inches, and I was opened up from L1 to S2, but this is the standard way my NS does it, as he attaches a stereotactic frame for the O-arm to the spine above or below the affected level.

    How are you feeling now? Did you get any relief from the surgery? Are you still going to this doctor? Have you sought any other opinions? Please let us know how you are doing. I hope you get relief and restitution for this gross error. >:D< Cali-Sue
  • Then to top it off, he would not and will not give me pain meds. I have been on methadone for almost a year, I told my primary that I want off of the meds and that is why I chose to have this surgery. This surgeon told my doctor not to give me pain meds and he sent me to a pain mgmt guy in Santa Rosa. I saw this dr. on 11/20 2 weeks after surgery, I could still barely walk and my pain level was a 10+, he gave me like 7 RX's, I do not need 7 different pills for the pain, I got the percocet, flexeril and something he prescribed for my stomach. He only gave me 90 percocet to last 30 days, I was suppose to take 1 every 8 hours, I have been taking Norco 10/325 for 3 years, morphine , you name it, my tolerance to pain pills is very high. I ran out in 10 days he then called in Norco 10/325 to last 2 weeks, they lasted 10 days, today he would only give me 15 pills to last 6 days, thats is I blew my freakin lid...I have had it with these doctors, 15 pain pills I will be out by Saturday and then have to suffer and lay in bed until I go back to the hospital for a spinal injection on Monday. I need an attorney that will listen and help me. Oh he told me when he went in to do the discectomy he said wait there is nothing wrong with these discs ( when he was at the L1-2) and sent me for an xray~~I feel like he totally screwed up and thought he was doing a discectomy on the L1-L2, he was just trying to cover his tracks, I want to get the transcripts from the operating room, I am working on that....I am so sick of these doctors hurting me and making tons of money and not having to take care of their responsibilities....I am just tired of it. I emailed Gloria Allreds office today in LA, I think that is far enough from home, I feel I cannot trust anyone around here because they all stick together, youknow!
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