Woman claims she became quadriplegic after surgery at Mount Vernon hospital

Kelly Holleran Jul. 22, 2010, 3:21am

A woman who became quadriplegic claims she lost the feeling in her arms and legs after surgery at a Mount Vernon hospital.

E. Marlene Summers filed a lawsuit July 8 in Madison County Circuit Court against Good Samaritan Hospital, Waqqas Kahn and Kevin Claffey.

Summers claims she visited Good Samaritan at the advice of her doctor, Kahn, for the installation of a trial dorsal column stimulator -- a device that stimulates nerves by tiny electrical impulses. The stimulator is usually implanted in people with chronic and severe pain, according to the complaint.

However, before and after Doctors Kahn and Claffey implanted the stimulator on Sept. 26, 2008, they did not prescribe Summers any antibiotics, the suit states.

Thus, on Oct. 1, 2008, Summers had to return to the hospital with an infection around the area where the doctors had performed surgery, the complaint says. Doctors removed the stimulator and released Summers from the hospital on Oct. 14, 2008, she claims.

On Oct. 22, 2008, Summers returned to the hospital with general feelings of uneasiness and fatigue, according to the complaint.

During the evening on Oct. 23, 2008, doctors performed a cervical MRI on Summers, which showed osteomyelitis with an epidural abscess creating severe central cranal stenosis, the suit states.

On Oct. 24, 2008, Summers was airlifted to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, the complaint says. From there, she eventually was transferred to a residential care facility.

As of the filing of her suit, Summers had no feeling below her chest and cannot turn her head, although she could slightly move her arms and shoulders.

"Plaintiff requires 100% assistance since the time of her cervical abscess created by infection," the suit states.

Because of the infection, Summers incurred medical costs and suffered permanent pain, suffering, disability and disfigurement, according to the complaint.

She blames the hospital and its doctors for her infection, saying they negligently failed to perform a proper pre-operative workup, failed to order a cervical MRI, failed to administer an appropriate antibiotic regimen, allowed physicians to perform procedures when they did not have proper credentials, failed to identify her surgical abscess in a timely manner and failed to properly treat her infection.

In her three-count suit, Summers seeks a judgment of more than $150,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Matthew J. Sauter of Sauter Sullivan in St. Louis will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-721.

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