Found 176 Results Sorted by Case Date
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California – Neurology – Lack Of Documentation When Diagnosing Neuropathic Pain, RLS, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome With Normal Neurological Examination



A 43-year-old male was referred by his primary care physician to a neurologist for multiple medical issues, including obesity, chronic post-operative pain following lumbar spine surgery, major depressive disorder, familial tremor, shoulder pain, excessive daytime sleepiness, congestive heart failure, and peripheral neuropathy.  The patient had been on Norco and was switched to Tramadol. The dose of Tramadol was 100 mg 4 times a day. Other medications were trazodone 100 mg h.s., zolpidem 10 mg h.s., HCTZ 25 mg, Lasix 40 mg, Flomax 0.5 mg, and topiramate 100 mg twice daily.

On 3/27/2014, the neurologist saw the patient for an office visit.  The patient complained of symptoms of foot pain, burning, and restless leg syndrome (RLS) symptoms.  The neurologist diagnosed neuropathic pain, RLS, obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, and tremor.  She planned to do B12 and ferritin levels, and she recommended an EMG/NCV of both upper and lower extremities.  The neurologist noted a normal neurological examination. Despite the normal neurological examination, the neurologist failed to keep adequate documentation to establish her multiple diagnoses.  She coded the visit as a level 5 new patient evaluation. The neurologist failed to document her 14-point review of systems and other required examinations to substantiate level 5 billing.

During a subsequent interview with the Medical Board, the neurologist initially stated that she had no recollection of the patient.  Her medical report timed the office visit at 9:15, and the encounter ended at 11:11 a.m., approximately 2 hours. She stated that she spent 40 minutes with him.  She could not account for the other time. She stated that “the rest was not me” and that she did not know what the time was “in between.” The patient claimed that she asked him only to stand and to try to stand on his heels and to squeeze her fingers.  When asked why she ordered the EMG, she answered, “For neuropathy versus radiculopathy versus carpal tunnel syndrome could have CDIP.” She did not know what a Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) report was.

The Medical Board of California judged that the neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she failed to keep accurate, timely, complete medical records to support her diagnoses, coded and billed for level 5 services not substantiated in her records, and was not aware of CURES reports and did not utilize it in her practice.

For this case and others, the Medical Board of California placed the neurologist on probation and ordered the neurologist to complete a medical record keeping course, a professionalism program (ethics course), an education course (at least 40 hours per year for each year of probation), and a clinical training program equivalent to the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program offered at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.  The neurologist was assigned a practice monitor and was prohibited from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.

State: California


Date: January 2018


Specialty: Neurology


Symptom: Extremity Pain, Back Pain, Joint Pain, Psychiatric Symptoms


Diagnosis: Neurological Disease


Medical Error: Lack of proper documentation, Procedural error


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 1


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Neurology – Lamictal, Depakote, And Topamax For Seizures



A 14-year-old girl was referred by her pediatrician to a child neurologist for seizures.  The child neurologist first saw the patient on 8/10/2009. The patient’s first seizure occurred at age 10, early morning on 2/21/2006, and a second episode occurred in the early morning sometimes around December 2008.  At the time the patient saw the child neurologist, her medication included Klonopin 0.5 mg p.m., Depakote at 750 b.i.d., and Vistaril 10 mg p.m. The patient’s MRI on October 2008 was normal. The patient’s EEG performed on October 2007 noted 3-13 seizures.  The child neurologist’s assessment was “juvenile myoclonic epilepsy; rule out adverse effect of med correctly given; insomnia unspecified; depressive disorder; and cafe au lait spots x 2.” The child neurologist ordered a video EEG “to rule out any epileptogenic foci.”

On 8/12/2009, the video EEG was performed.  The technician reported sharp and slow waves left F3-C3.  The child neurologist read it as normal. A BAER was performed on the same day even though it was not ordered by the child neurologist.  The BAER was not indicated, and the referring diagnosis for the BAER was not in the record and was used only for billing.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 8/21/2009 for a follow-up visit.  The child neurologist noted that the patient was tolerating Depakote well. The Depakote level was 101.  The child neurologist diagnosed breakthrough seizures despite the fact that no seizures were reported. The child neurologist added Topamax Sprinkles 25 mg to increase to 50 mg b.i.d.  She stopped the Klonopin and Vistaril.

On 11/2/2009, the child neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  She noted that patient was gaining weight with Topamax and wanted to stop Depakote, though it was well tolerated.  The patient had no seizures and no myoclonic jerks. The child neurologist ordered another video EEG without medical indication.  The result of the second video EEG was normal. The child neurologist’s reading of the video EEG followed a template and was the same with all of her video EG reports except for the first paragraph regarding time of sleep, wake, and meals.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 5/3/2010.  The patient reported no auras or seizures. The child neurologist noted under past medical history that the patient had suicidal thoughts.  The child neurologist did not address this issue during this visit. The child neurologist continued Topamax 50 mg b.i.d., even though there was a note of memory problems.  The child neurologist reduced Depakote to 500 b.i.d. She ordered labs and a 4-day ambulatory EEG without any medical indication. The 2 previous video EEGs were normal, and the patient did not have any seizures.  The patient underwent a third video EEG on this visit, which was not ordered nor medically indicated.

On 6/8/2010, the child neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  The patient was taken off Topamax. Her memory improved, but her headaches recurred.  The child neurologist diagnosed migraines without asking sufficient questions to make that diagnosis.  She added amitriptyline 10 mg, Imitrex 100 mg, and continued Depakote 500 b.i.d.

The 4-day ambulatory EEG ordered on 5/3/2010 was performed on 7/6/2010.  It was completed despite the fact that the patient just underwent a third video EEG on 5/3/2010.  There was no medical indication for the 3 previous EEGs and the 4-day ambulatory EEG. The 4-day ambulatory EEG was read as normal.

On 8/23/2010, the child neurologist saw the patient for 2 back-to-back seizures that occurred on 8/11/2010.  The patient was taken to the emergency room with a history of early morning twitching since the seizures. The child neurologist’s assessment was breakthrough seizures.  The child neurologist added Lamictal 100 mg b.i.d. and raised Depakote from 500 mg b.i.d. to 1000 mg b.i.d. The child neurologist failed to recognize that on 7/29/2010, the patient was having myoclonic jerks, which were described as twitches.  The patient had been on 750 mg b.i.d. with a level of 100 and had been seizure free for 2 years. The child neurologist failed to recognize the important interaction between Lamictal and Depakote. The child neurologist failed to consider that it was very likely that the patient had toxic levels of both Depakote and Lamictal.  The child neurologist did not check the patient’s blood levels. The child neurologist ordered another video EEG and another ambulatory EEG. The video EEG was performed on September 2010 and was normal. The child neurologist used the same template on her report.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 11/4/2010.  The patient was unable to sleep, had difficulties with coordination and balance, was forgetful; all symptoms consistent with medication toxicity.  The child neurologist failed to recognize it as such. The patient was on Depakote 500 mg b.i.d. and Lamictal 100 mg b.i.d. Suicidal ideation was noted in the child neurologist’s previous notes, but the child neurologist failed to address this issue.  The child neurologist added Prozac 20 mg, which had a black box warning for suicidal ideation.

The Medical Board of California judged that the child neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she ordered 4-5 video EEGs and an ambulatory EEG without medical indication, ordered a BAER with no medical indication, lacked knowledge and/or did not consider the important interaction between Depakote and Lamictal.  The child neurologist diagnosed migraines without establishing diagnostic criteria, diagnosed circadian sleep disorder without asking any questions regarding symptoms and adding the polysomnogram report in the chart, and prescribed Prozac to patient with a history of suicidal thoughts despite the black box warning.

For this case and others, the Medical Board of California placed the child neurologist on probation and ordered the child neurologist to complete a medical record keeping course, a professionalism program (ethics course), an education course (at least 40 hours per year for each year of probation), and a clinical training program equivalent to the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program offered at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.  The child neurologist was assigned a practice monitor and was prohibited from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.

State: California


Date: January 2018


Specialty: Neurology, Pediatrics


Symptom: Headache


Diagnosis: Neurological Disease, Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal, Psychiatric Disorder


Medical Error: Improper medication management, Diagnostic error, Failure to examine or evaluate patient properly, Unnecessary or excessive diagnostic tests


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Neurology – Neck Pain, Extremity Weakness, And Numbness Diagnosed As Multiple Sclerosis



A 56-year-old female was referred by her primary care physician to a neurologist.  The patient’s primary care physician noted neck pain and numbness of the upper extremities, left greater than right, present for 1 year.  Her medications were lisinopril 5 mg daily, Lyrica 50 mg 3 times daily, Flexeril 10 mg 3 times daily, Mobic 15 mg daily, and Nexium 40 mg daily.  Her primary care physician noted that she had lumbar laminectomy for disk herniation in the past for low back pain and tingling of the left leg. He also noted that the MRI of her cervical spine was abnormal and requested a neurological evaluation.  It revealed an abnormal signal intensity C2-3 affecting posterior columns with the radiologist’s comment of “could account for arm numbness and tingling.” The x-ray of her cervical spine performed on 11/5/2012 ordered by her primary care physician showed moderate degenerative changes.  The x-ray of her lumbar spine performed on 2/23/2012 showed similar findings.

The neurologist first saw the patient on 12/10/2012 for the abnormal cervical spine MRI.  The patient’s complaints were “neck pain; left neck and arm numb; right arm and right knee; losing urine; and generalized weakness on the left.”  The patient also complained that she “also feels ‘dead’ hips down, [d]izzy spells several times, no energy, difficult to concentrate.” The neurologist noted the “neuro exam essentially normal.”  The neurologist’s diagnoses were demyelinating disease; paresthesias of face and her extremities, vertigo, and memory loss. The neurologist ordered the following tests: EMG/NCV lower extremities, though later she also did upper extremities; MRI of the brain; neuromuscular junction tests with EMG; BAER with vestibular testing; VEP; EEG, overnight; and EEG awake and sleep with digital analysis 95957.

The upper extremity EMG/NCV study was performed on 1/3/2013.  She tested 4 motor nerves, 5 sensory nerves, and F waves. The neurologist tested every muscle, which was present in the upper extremities.  The results of the study were normal.

The electrodiagnostic study of the lower extremities were performed on 1/10/2013.  The neurologist tested 4 motor nerves, 6 sensory nerves, 2 H reflexes, bilateral F waves of the motor nerves.  She did a needle EMG of all muscles in the lower extremities and paraspinal muscles. The results of the study were normal.

There was a report of a video-monitored EEG utilizing a 32-channel digital EEG system manufactured by Cadwell.  This test was performed on 12/26/2012. The report stated that the technician performed hyperventilation, but the patient reported she did not, and that the patient was videotaped, though the patient reported she was not.  It was read as normal.

The ambulatory EEG was performed on 2/5/2013 to 2/6/2013.  In the report, it was termed a 2-day ambulatory EEG despite lasting only 1 day.  The neurologist prepared the report. The report contained a printout of 1 page. It was timed 6:21 a.m., and it contained widespread artifacts lasting 10 seconds.  This was the exact time that the patient reported she stood in front of her microwaves. The neurologist read this as “Isolated sharp waves were noted in the frontal left hemispheric area. The isolated sharp waves may be epileptogenic in nature.”  The visual and brainstem auditory evoked potentials were normal.

On 2/26/2013, the neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  The test results were available to the neurologist at the visit. The neurologist noted that the EEG for the patient was normal for both awake and drowsy.  The neurologist also noted that the 2-day EEG, which lasted only 1 day and the MRI of the brain showed a corpus callosum lesion. Her assessment and plan contained the same diagnoses as the first visit of 12/10/2012, and she failed to consider new information that should have changed her initial diagnoses.

The neurologist did not diagnose seizures in the assessment and plan, but she prescribed Depakote.  The neurologist discussed with the patient that she met criteria for relapsing and remitting Multiple Sclerosis with an acute exacerbation.  The neurologist also noted that the patient had pain with neck movement, which was sharp and went to the toes. She believed that the symptom was consistent with the finding of the ambulatory EEG and thus started the patient on Depakote 500 mg b.i.d.  The neurologist failed to recognize Lhermitte’s sign, consistent with the myelopathy. The neurologist ordered laboratory studies for Lyme disease, lupus, and lumbar puncture. She ordered monitoring labs for Depakote, CBC, and liver function tests to be done before the next visit.

The MRI of the brain the neurologist referred to in the 2/26/2013 follow-up visit was performed at the neurologist’s request on 12/28/2012.  The report indicated 20 FLAIR hyperintensities and a possible tiny corpus callosum lesion. The neurologist concluded it was consistent with multiple sclerosis.  The 12/28/2012 report contained a comparison to a previous MRI of the brain performed on 7/1/2007. The radiologist thought the new MRI showed abnormalities “probably very slightly more numerous” than the 2007 MRI.  He further considered the appearance to be nonspecific, and the tiny lesion in the corpus callosum was considered possible.

The 2007 MRI was requested by another physician.  It was read as showing “a few nonspecific scattered punctate of unlikely clinical significance.”  Multiple sclerosis was not raised as a possible cause. Referring diagnosis was “recent vertigo and left-sided dizziness.”  The neurologist failed to question the patient on symptoms that occurred in 2007.

On 3/12/2013, the patient was seen in the emergency room for nausea and vomiting.  She was diagnosed with Depakote toxicity with a level of 108. She was told to stop the medication.  She was scheduled for the lumbar puncture the following day and was told to keep that appointment. The day following the lumbar puncture, she developed symptoms consistent with a postspinal headache.  She was seen by the neurologist in her office on the same day and diagnosed with Depakote toxicity. At this point, the neurologist erroneously believed that the patient had “definite” multiple sclerosis.  She also erroneously believed that “the patient wrongfully assumed” Depakote caused her symptoms and believed that they were from the lumbar puncture.

The neurologist next saw the patient on 3/26/2013 for an office visit.  The neurologist noted that the patient had a postspinal headache. She noted that the spinal fluid was negative for oligoclonal bands, but incorrectly thought the IgG synthesis was abnormal.  She incorrectly diagnosed “primary stabbing headache” despite her earlier entry of postspinal headache.

In a subsequent interview with a Medical Board investigator, the neurologist was questioned as to why she did not take a history of previous symptoms, such as optic neuritis, that help to establish a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.  She was questioned if the examination was normal and why she did not check the “saddle” area for sensory loss, and she reported, “Why should I check the saddle area?” There were no “incontinence of stools.” When asked if she would have documented Lhermitte’s symptom or sign if present, she answered yes.  She obtained a history of symptoms consistent with Lhermitte’s, but did not recognize it as such. Memory loss was given as a diagnosis, but when asked how it was based, she could not recall. When asked to explain the reasons that each test was ordered, she responded that the EMG was based on symptoms, the neuromuscular test was based on the possibility of myasthenia gravis causing general weakness, the BAER and VEP as part of the multiple sclerosis work-up, and the EEG to rule out seizures as the cause of numbness and weakness.  She stated video monitoring on EEG was standard practice. Hearing loss was her reason for performing the BAER, but no hearing loss or visual disturbance was documented. She stated that the 2007 MRI showed infratentorial and supratentorial lesions whereas there was no mention of an infratentorial lesion in the radiology report. She ordered the EMG of the upper extremities to “rule out any other diseases” and stated “EMG is part of differential diagnosis,” and the indication she believed was numbness and tingling in the hands. When asked why she did 24 upper extremity and 6 cervical paraspinal muscles on EMG, she stated she wanted to make sure there was “no polyradiculopathy,” but she admitted there were no findings to suggest that diagnosis.  Further, she believed that numbness and tingling and incontinence would indicate polyradiculopathy. When questioned regarding indications for EMG of the lower extremities, she stated back problems, numbness right arm and right knee, and feeling the hips on down were “dead.” In the lower extremities, she tested 12 different muscles and 6 paraspinal muscles. She was then questioned about what were the indications for the EEG, and she believed they were generalized weakness, dizzy spells, no energy to work, and difficulty focusing. She was questioned as to why the first EEG was not sufficient. She stated that on 2/26/2013 visit, she had findings of generalized seizure disorder, but this was not the wording in the EEG report nor was it in her letter to the Board.  She was not aware that a microwave can cause artifacts. Regarding indication for Depakote, her answer was because of the EEG and numbness and tingling. She thought it would be trial and error to see if it would help. She thought that the patient’s symptom of “neck killing her” would be consistent with a multiple sclerosis plaque. When asked why she ordered Lyme disease and lupus blood tests, she stated that they were “on my mind.”

The Medical Board of California judged that the neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she failed to recognize symptoms and findings on the MRI of a partial transverse cervical myelopathy, ordered an EMG for the upper and lower extremities, video EEG, and ambulatory EEG without medical indication, conducted an excessive number of nerve tests for any diagnosis, misdiagnosed epilepsy, lacked knowledge in reading EEGs, and had no knowledge and/or did not consider the important interaction between Depakote and the patient’s other medications.  The neurologist also lacked knowledge in several fundamental areas.  She failed to recognize symptoms of a partial transverse cervical myelopathy and Lhermitte’s symptoms even though it was described to her by the patient.  She did not recognize or, if she did, did not reflect in her records that almost all of the patient’s symptoms were caused by the cervical myelopathy. The neurologist erroneously believed that a multiple sclerosis plaque could cause severe neck pain and that IgG synthesis could indicate active or inactive multiple sclerosis.  She diagnosed multiple sclerosis on the basis of the McDonald criteria, and she included the original report, but she gave no information in her records how those criteria fit the patient. She failed to question the patient for previous symptoms, which might establish an initial exacerbation of multiple sclerosis. The neurologist was aware that the patient had an MRI in 2007 and did not question the patient regarding her symptoms at that time.  She ordered laboratory studies for possible Lyme disease or “lupus” and a monophasic cervical myelopathy despite the fact that it was exceedingly unlikely to be caused by any of those disorders. She failed to consider alternative causes for the patient’s presentation, specifically B12 deficiency or adrenomyeloneuropathy.

For this case and others, the Medical Board of California placed the neurologist on probation and ordered the neurologist to complete a medical record keeping course, a professionalism program (ethics course), an education course (at least 40 hours per year for each year of probation), and a clinical training program equivalent to the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program offered at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.  The neurologist was assigned a practice monitor and was prohibited from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.

State: California


Date: January 2018


Specialty: Neurology


Symptom: Head/Neck Pain, Dizziness, Headache, Nausea Or Vomiting, Numbness, Urinary Problems, Weakness/Fatigue


Diagnosis: Spinal Injury Or Disorder, Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal


Medical Error: Diagnostic error, Failure to examine or evaluate patient properly, Unnecessary or excessive diagnostic tests, Improper medication management


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Anesthesiology – Wrong Site Procedure For A Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection



On 4/28/2015 an 80-year-old female, presented to an anesthesiologist for an initial consultation for possible epidural steroid injections.  On 4/28/2015, the patient had a history of left sided lower back pain and left lower extremity pain.

On 4/28/2015, the anesthesiologist scheduled the patient for a left transforaminal epidural steroid injection (TFESI) to be performed on 4/29/2015.

On 4/29/2015, the patient presented to the anesthesiologist at outpatient surgery and laser center for the planned left TFESI.  On 4/29/2015, the patient and anesthesiologist signed a consent form for a left TFESI.  After the patient was prepped for the procedure, the anesthesiologist performed a TFESI on the patient’s right side (the wrong site).  While the patient was still in the procedure room, the anesthesiologist was informed that he performed the TFESI on the incorrect side.  The anesthesiologist then performed a TFESI on the patient’s left side (the correct site).

The anesthesiologist’s procedure report on 4/29/2015 procedures did not accurately document the anesthesiologist’s performance of TFESI procedures on two different sides of the patient.

The Board ordered the anesthesiologist to pay a fine of $5,000 against his license.  Also, the Board ordered that the anesthesiologist pay reimbursement costs of $5,857.63.  The Board ordered that the anesthesiologist complete a medical records course.  The Board ordered that the anesthesiologist complete five hours of continuing medical education on “Risk Management.”  Also, the Board ordered the anesthesiologist to complete a one hour lecture on wrong site surgeries to medical staff at an approved site.

State: Florida


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Anesthesiology, Neurology


Symptom: Pain


Diagnosis: Spinal Injury Or Disorder


Medical Error: Wrong site procedure, Lack of proper documentation


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 2


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Neurosurgery – Wrong Site Procedure When Performing Surgery On A Subdural Hematoma



On 11/6/2016, a 61-year-old female presented to the emergency department, suffering from confusion and weakness after a fall.  A CT scan revealed that the patient had a large, left-sided subdural hematoma.

That same day, a neurosurgeon was asked to evaluate the patient.  The neurosurgeon correctly documented that the patient was suffering from a left-sided subdural hematoma.  The neurosurgeon further documented his intention to remove a blood clot from the left side of the patient’s subdural space.

Shortly thereafter, the patient was brought to the operating room and preparations were begun for a left-sided craniotomy.  However, at some point during the preparation process, the patient’s head was turned and the neurosurgeon began to operate on the right side.

After the neurosurgeon made an incision through the skin, he removed a bone flap and punctured the dura mater on the right side of the patient’s brain.  The neurosurgeon realized that he was operating on the incorrect side.  The neurosurgeon closed the operating site and proceeded to perform the correct procedure.

It was requested that the Board order one or more of the following penalties for the neurosurgeon:  permanent revocation or suspension of his license, restriction of practice, imposition of an administrative fine, issuance of a reprimand, probation, corrective action, payment of fees, remedial education, and/or any other relief that the Board deemed appropriate.

State: Florida


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Neurosurgery


Symptom: Confusion, Weakness/Fatigue


Diagnosis: Intracranial Hemorrhage, Trauma Injury


Medical Error: Wrong site procedure


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Obstetrics – Lack Of Maternal Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein Testing With Pregnancy Complications



On 2/24/2014, a 36-year-old female presented to an obstetrician for fatigue, breast tenderness, and absence of menstruation.  At the aforementioned visit, the obstetrician diagnosed the patient with amenorrhea and sent her to have blood work.

On 2/25/2014, the patient was notified of her positive pregnancy test.

On 3/10/2014, 3/17/2014, 3/24/2014. 4/24/2014, 8/7/2014, and 9/25/2015, the obstetrician ordered obstetrical ultrasounds and/or sonograms for the patient.

On 4/23/2014 and 8/20/2014, the patient presented to the obstetrician with thick vaginal fluid and blood discharge, morning sickness, nausea, chills, fever, and back pain.

On 5/23/2014, 6/20/2014, 7/16/2014, 8/15/2014, 9/12/2014, 10/13/2014, 10/20/2014, and 10/27/2014, the patient presented to the obstetrician for follow-up visits.

On 11/2/2014, the patient gave birth to her son, who was born with spina bifida/myelomeningocele.

The obstetrician failed to diagnose neural tube defect on imaging studies.

The obstetrician failed to order a maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) test and did not maintain adequate legible documentation of ordering an MSAFP test.

The obstetrician failed to order an anatomical survey sonogram.

The Board ordered that the obstetrician pay a fine of $7000 against his license. The Board ordered that the obstetrician pay reimbursements costs of a minimum of $3,786.18 and not to exceed $5,786.18.  The Board also ordered that the obstetrician complete a course on “Quality Medical Record Keeping for Health Care Professionals” and that he  complete five hours of continuing medical education on “Risk Management.”

State: Florida


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Obstetrics


Symptom: Fever, Bleeding, Nausea Or Vomiting, Back Pain


Diagnosis: Obstetrical Complication, Spinal Injury Or Disorder


Medical Error: Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test, Failure to follow up, Lack of proper documentation


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Gynecology – CBC Tests Show Neutropenia And Leukopenia At An Annual Gynecological Exam



On 8/15/2013, a 34-year-old female presented to a gynecologist for an annual gynecological exam.  At the exam, the patient expressed concerns about infertility.  The gynecologist and the patient discussed various tests that may be used to address infertility and the gynecologist began ordering tests.

On 2/23/2015, the patient gave blood for a complete blood count (“CBC”) test that was ordered by the gynecologist.

On 3/5/2015, the gynecologist received and signed for the results of the CBC test.  The CBC test indicated the patient had an abnormal white blood cell count, marked leukopenia, and severe neutropenia.

The gynecologist failed to notify the patient of the abnormal results of the CBC test.

The gynecologist failed to ensure that the patient had otherwise established a plan of care to address the abnormal results of the CBC test.

On 5/28/2015, the patient presented to the gynecologist for an annual gynecological exam.  At the exam, it was determined that the patient was pregnant, and the gynecologist ordered blood tests for the patient.  The gynecologist failed to order a repeat CBC test.

On 7/17/2015, the gynecologist received and signed for the results of the repeat CBC test.  The repeat CBC test indicated that the patient’s white blood cell count had decreased further, the neutropenia had worsened, and she now had pancytopenia with a drop in the red blood cell and platelet count.

On 7/30/2015, the gynecologist notified the patient of the results of her repeat CBC test and referred her to a hematologist.

On 8/8/2015, the patient experienced a massive intracranial hemorrhage with herniation, as well as severe pancytopenia.

On 8/12/2015, the patient expired in the hospital.  The fetus was also lost at that point.

The Medical Board of Florida judged the gynecologists conduct to be below the minimal standard of competence given that she failed to ensure that the patient had been notified of the abnormal results of the CBC test.  The gynecologist failed to ensure that the patient had otherwise established, a plan of care to address the abnormal results of the CBC test.  The gynecologist failed to order a repeat CBC test at the patient’s May exam.

The Medical Board of Florida issued a letter of concern against the gynecologist’s license.  The Medical Board of Florida ordered that the gynecologist pay a fine of $8,500 against her license and pay reimbursement costs for the case at a minimum of $3,126.31 and not to exceed $5,126.31.  The Medical Board of Florida ordered that the gynecologist complete five hours of continuing medical education in “risk management.”

State: Florida


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Gynecology, Obstetrics


Symptom: N/A


Diagnosis: Hematological Disease, Intracranial Hemorrhage


Medical Error: Failure to follow up, Delay in proper treatment, Failure of communication with patient or patient relations


Significant Outcome: Death


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Virginia – Neurosurgery – All-Terrain Vehicle Rollover Accident Causes L1 Compression Fracture



On 1/19/2008, a 32-year-old man suffered an L1 compression fracture following an all-terrain vehicle rollover accident.  He saw a neurosurgeon who placed him in a rigid back brace and prescribed pain medications.  The patient’s fracture appeared to be clinically stable and appeared to be improving.  The Board deemed the long-term risk of developing a kyphotic deformity low in this patient.

On 3/7/2008,  the neurosurgeon performed a kyphoplasty of the spine the patient.  During the kyphoplasty, the vertebral body was too dense to accept the cement.  As a consequence, the cement extruded out of the fracture plans into the epidural space.

The neurosurgeon addressed this complication by performing a posterior laminectomy and decompression of the thecal sac.  The Board stated that the laminectomy procedure subjected the patient to a far greater risk for development of kyphosis than had existed prior to the kyphoplasty.

The Board considered the surgery unwarranted and issued a reprimand.  The neurosurgeon was ordered to complete 10 hours of continuing medical education in the subject of patient selection for spinal surgery.

State: Virginia


Date: November 2017


Specialty: Neurosurgery


Symptom: Back Pain


Diagnosis: Spinal Injury Or Disorder, Fracture(s)


Medical Error: Unnecessary or excessive treatment or surgery, Procedural error


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 5


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Neurosurgery – Cervical Microdiscectomy At Levels C5/7 And C6/7 Instead Of Levels C4/5 And C5/6



On 11/17/2014, a patient presented to a neurosurgeon for an anterior cervical microdiscectomy for decompression with allograft fusion at cervical levels C4/5 and C5/6.  During the procedure, it was discovered that the initial localization x-ray was misinterpreted and that the neurosurgeon performed the fusion at cervical levels C5/7 and C6/7 instead of cervical levels C4/5 and C5/6.  After the neurosurgeon discovered the error, he proceeded to perform the fusion at the correct cervical levels, C4/5 and C5/6.

The Board judged the neurosurgeons conduct to be below the minimum standard of competence given that he performed the procedure on the wrong site.

The Board ordered that the neurosurgeon pay a fine of $5,000 against his license and pay reimbursement costs of a minimum of $1,859.22 but not to exceed $3,859.22.  The Board also ordered that the neurosurgeon complete five hours of continuing medical education in “Risk Management” and complete a one hour lecture/seminar on wrong site surgeries.

State: Florida


Date: November 2017


Specialty: Neurosurgery


Symptom: N/A


Diagnosis: Spinal Injury Or Disorder


Medical Error: Wrong site procedure


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 1


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Orthopedic Surgery – Damage To Inferior Vena Cava And Other Complications After Guidewire Improperly Placed In Disk Space



On 12/24/2014, a 59-year-old female was admitted to a medical center for a Microscopic Extraforaminal Lumbar Discectomy of L4-L5.  An orthopedic surgeon was assigned to perform the patient’s procedure.  He began the procedure by utilizing image intensification to use a guidewire for initial placement of dilators in the patient’s spine.

After removal of the guidewire, the orthopedic surgeon noted that he felt the guidewire had gone into the disk space slightly.

After sixty percent of the procedure was completed, the orthopedic surgeon was advised by the anesthesiologist that there was a decrease in the patient’s CO2.  It was subsequently noted that the patient’s blood pressure began to drop.

The orthopedic surgeon then placed an OpSite over the patient’s incision, turned the patient to a supine position, and called for assistance from a vascular surgeon.

On 12/24/2014, after becoming hypotensive and then experiencing pulseless electrical activity during the lumbar discectomy, the patient underwent an exploratory laparotomy with repair of inferior vena cava injury.

During the exploratory laparotomy, after approximately one hour of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and advanced cardiac life support protocol, the patient expired on the operating table.

At all times relevant to this case, the prevailing professional standard of care requires that when dealing with patients such as this one, a physician should place instruments into a patient’s body in a manner to do the least possible harm.

The Board judged the orthopedic surgeons conduct to be below the minimal standard of competence given that he allowed an instrument to pass into the patient’s cavity in such a way that injured underlying structures and by failing to recognize the penetration of the guidewire at the time of placement of the initial dilator, which lead to the injury of the patient’s inferior vena cava.

It was requested that the Board order one or more of the following penalties for the orthopedic surgeon: permanent revocation or suspension of his license, restriction of practice, imposition of an administrative fine, issuance of a reprimand, probation, corrective action, payment of fees, remedial education, and/or any other relief that the Board deemed appropriate.

State: Florida


Date: October 2017


Specialty: Orthopedic Surgery


Symptom: N/A


Diagnosis: Post-operative/Operative Complication, Spinal Injury Or Disorder


Medical Error: Procedural error


Significant Outcome: Death


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



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