A quarter of back pain sufferers are ‘left damaged’ by remedial surgery according to a study by spinal surgeons, with post-op issues ranging from severe pain to permanent paralysis.
The study, which was conducted by a team at Salford spinal surgery unit, found that 25% of 900 patients suffered complications following a spinal operation. This figure sits in stark contrast to the 4.6% complication rate reported by surgeons.
Medical negligence claims for substandard spinal procedures are now so common that the Medical Defence Union, which provides insurance to private doctors, has announced that it will no longer cover the cost of back surgery claims outside the NHS. Leading spinal surgeons are also demanding the development of a patient database, which would make it easier to identify patterns of failure and hold those liable to account for inadequate care and wrongdoing.
Leading surgeon Naveed Yasin of the Salford spinal unit led the study, and reported the team’s findings to the British Association of Spinal Surgeons (BASS). Speaking to the Times, Naveed voiced concerns that the lack of a single registry for spinal operations means there’s no benchmark against which the quality of spinal operations can be measured, and that the outcomes of many procedures aren’t being properly recorded.
He said: “Outcome measurements are controversial, but we need them. We compare outcomes with European averages. If you don’t do them, how do you know if you’re a good or bad surgeon?”
In our work representing those affected by substandard spinal surgery, we see patients living with life-changing injuries and complications, including severe pain, incontinence, paralysis, and difficulty walking. Worryingly, cases of botched spinal surgery are on the increase, with the same failings found to be repeated from patient to patient.
Spinal Surgery Errors Greatest Legal Drain on NHS
After damage during childbirth, spinal surgery complication claims represent the greatest legal drain on the NHS, with thousands paid in failed back surgery compensation each year. According to the Medical Protection Society, a government-backed organisation which supports healthcare professionals, the cost of settling medical negligence claims could reach £2.6bn a year by 2022 — with botched spinal surgery compensation accounting for a large proportion of this total figure.
Given the life-changing impact substandard back surgery poses, more must be done to improve standards and reduce the risk patients face when undergoing seemingly low-risk procedures. The General Medical Council is currently reviewing the results of the study, and is expected to outline its proposed improvement plans when BASS publishes its full report later in the year.
If you’ve suffered as a result of a substandard back operation, our medical negligence solicitors are here to help. For a free, no obligation consultation about your claim, click here or call our team today.