Winning a football game is difficult. Winning a Medical Malpractice trial can be more difficult; just ask Al wilson, the former Denver Bronco.
Al Wilson brought a Medical Malpractice case against Dr. Chad Prusmack, a neurosurgeon for the Denver Broncos. Wilson alleged Dr. Chad Prusmack failed to provide him with good medical advice regarding a neck injury. Wilson claimed the advice cost him a $25 million NFL contract.
As reported by the Denver Post, a Denver District Court jury determined Dr. Chad Prusmack, still a neurosurgical consultant for the Broncos, was not negligent in the advice he provided Wilson about his injury.
The lawsuit began in 2008 when Wilson sued Prusmack and alleged Dr. Prusmack didn’t tell him he should get surgery to correct an injury he suffered during a game with the Seattle Seahawks in December 2006.
“He did not think that the surgery that Mr. Wilson claims should have been performed was indicated in any way,” said Prusmack’s attorney, Craig Adams. “Mr. Wilson’s signs and symptoms went away rapidly.”
Prusmack cleared Wilson to play three more games for the Broncos that season and didn’t recommend a one-level spinal-fusion surgery.
When the season with the Broncos ended, the team tried to arrange a trade to the New York Giants, which Wilson believes could have led to a new $25 million, five-year contract, but he failed the physical when a Giants physician told him he would need to have surgery before he could be cleared to play. The trade was off, and the Broncos cut him from their roster.
Despite what the Giants’ doctors told Wilson, the jury believed Prusmack’s advice was not negligent, Adams said. Prusmack’s diagnosis was supported by testimony from some of the most well-respected spine surgeons in the world, Adams said.
“I think he prevailed because he was right,” Adams said. “Mr. Wilson never did have the surgery and still has not and was cleared to play football again by several different physicians.”
This case highlights the role of team physicians in the National Football League, and whether they truly have the players, their patients, best interest at heart. Team physicians are often encouraged to get players back on the field as soon as possible. If Wilson would of had the neck surgery, he would have been lost for the remainder of the season.
Neck injuries and the decision to have surgery are usually very subjective. Doctors will look at MRI films and the patient’s subjective symptoms of pain, and in the case of a neck injury, numbness into the arms. Based on these findings a doctor should explain to the patient whether he is or is not a surgical candidate, and the consequences of the alternatives presented. If it was the Doctor’s clinical judgement that surgery was not necessary, and that judgement was supported by the evidence, then this would be a very difficult case to prove. I assume the MRI evidence and the fact that Wilson’s symptoms went away was the focus of the defense case.
A very important key to the case would be whether the Giant’s them physician was willing to testify as Wilson’s expert. If he testified that he would of performed the surgery, and that more likely than not the surgery would have been successful and allowed Wilson to resume his career, then the outcome may have been different.
Part of the difficulty for a medical malpractice lawyer is finding doctor’s that are willing to testify against each other.
As a Miami medical malpractice lawyer, I often hire experts from all over the country, because local doctors are often hesitant to testify against local doctor’s they may know. The Florida legislature has recently made this even more difficult for Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers, by requiring out of state experts to submit applications for pre certification.