The Madison County Record May 18, 2015, 2:53pm


A woman is suing two doctors and their practices for allegedly putting off an emergency lumbar surgery for too long.

According to a lawsuit filed on May 8 in Madison County Circuit Court, Rita Ford filed a complaint against Drs. Theodore L. Vander Velde and Guy Alton, as well as Midwest Radiological Associates and BJC Medical Group of Illinois.

Ford, of East Alton, alleges she woke up at home on Oct. 25, 2013, with "incapacitating low back pain and discomfort." According to the complaint, she couldn't walk due to weakness and pain, and "numbness and a tingling sensation" stretched from her feet to her lower back.

After an ambulance took her to Alton Memorial Hospital, family members asked emergency room personnel to perform a lumbar MRI, the lawsuit states, but they were told that her own doctor would have to order it.

Three days later, Ford met with Alton at his practice, still experiencing the same symptoms, the suit states.

Alton prescribed pain medication but ordered no neurosurgical consultation. He did, however, order an MRI, the lawsuit states.

The next day, her MRI was forwarded back to Alton by Vander Velde. The same day, when contacted by family telling him that the pain meds weren't working, Alton only prescribed higher dosages but still didn't order a consult, the lawsuit states.

With the symptoms still persisting on Nov. 25, Ford went to a neurosurgeon at St. Luke's Hospital, who reviewed the MRI. The next day, the neurosurgeon performed emergency lumbar surgery to repair what was learned to be an epidural abscess.

Ford recovered for a week at St. Luke's, then went through two rehabilitation facilities until finally cleared for release on Feb. 19, 2014.

The plaintiff, alleging prolonged pain and suffering, medical expenses, permanent nerve damage, and loss of a normal life and income, seeks unspecified damages, plus costs, in excess of the court's minimum jurisdictional limit.

The plaintiff is represented by Paul W. Johnson and Robert W. Schmieder II in St. Louis.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-582.

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