On September 26th, 2023, Clark Hudson and Samantha Mills received a defense verdict on behalf of a San Diego Neurosurgeon.  The case involved a patient, who is also a medical doctor, experiencing a delayed Cerebral Spinal Fluid leak, with subsequent meningitis and development of a Sub-Dural empyema.  The patient’s initial spinal surgery was an L4-5 microdiscectomy.  The initial surgery resolved all the patient’s pre-operative symptoms.  Approximately one week after the surgery the patient reported a return of radicular symptoms and was provided oral steroids to address the complaints.

The patient then went to receive his second Covid-19 vaccine.  After receiving the vaccine, the patient believed he was experiencing an allergic reaction to the vaccine.  He was rushed to the hospital and worked up for the possible reaction to the vaccine – during which time it was determined the patient was showing signs of the Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) leak from the spinal surgery.  An MRI of the spine showed post-operative changes and the presence of fluid consistent with the CSF leak.  The decision was therefore made to oversee the wound in efforts to stop the CSF leak while the patient was observed in the hospital.

Two days after his admission the CSF leak persisted. The decision was therefore made to have a lumbar drain placed to divert the CSF fluid to allow the leak to seal.  Although the patient had been afebrile during the entire hospital stay, he reported chills an hour before the placement of the lumbar drain.  The decision was made to proceed with the drain placement, and to culture the CSF fluid for

possible infection.  At the time of drain placement, the interventional radiologist reported the CSF fluid was turbid (consistent with infection).  After the culture it was determined the patient developed MRSA bacterial meningitis.

The lumbar drain was dislodged overnight following the initial placement.  The patient was also showing signs of infection at the surgical site. The patient was therefore taken back to surgery to replace the lumbar drain, wash out the surgery site and patch the CSF leak.  At the time of surgery, it was determined the patient had experienced a facet fracture that caused the delayed CSF leak.  One week following the washout procedure the patient required a third procedure because of the patient developing a Sub-Dural empyema.

The patient, an Urgent Care doctor, claimed that he was unable to work because of continuing pain following the empyema.  The patient claimed past wage loss, future wage loss, and future care costs exceeding $9 Million dollars.  No specific value was placed on the patient’s past and future pain and suffering.  After a two-and-a-half-week trial the jury returned a defense verdict on behalf the Neurosurgeon.