Case Against Doctor who Failed to Diagnose Broken Neck leads to £4m award

A man who was sent home from hospital with a broken neck, after he was told by his doctor that he was “fine”, has won  £4.1m compensation in a case against a doctor who failed to diagnose broken neck by a jury at the Federal District Court in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Louis Prager was a healthy spouse husband, father and grandfather who was employed as an oil field worker near his home in Campbell County, Wyoming. On December 9 2008, Louis was brought to Campbell County Memorial Hospital after being involved in a rollover accident in his car. Unable to move and wearing a neck brace, Louis was attended to by Dr. Brian Cullison in the Accident and Emergency Department, who organised a CT scan and for x-rays to be taken of Louis´ head and back.

Dr Cullison discharged Louis home the same day – without conducting a physical examination, despite his patient complaining on neck pain, and minus the neck brace – but four days later, Louis returned to the Accident and Emergency Department of Campbell County Memorial Hospital having lost the use of his left arm and shoulder. He was told he had multiple cervical spine fractures which had lead to C5 nerve root injuries and underwent emergency neck fusion surgery.

Despite several more operations to ease the pain and implant a spinal cord stimulator, the condition became permanent and, after taking legal advice, Luis sued Dr Cullison and the Campbell County Memorial Hospital for doctor negligence.

At the hearing, the jury was advised the hospital and Dr Cullison both deny the allegations of doctor negligence – with the doctor claiming that he had performed a physical examination and it was not usual practice for the victim of a rollover car accident to have neck x-rays. However, a medical practitioner stated that had the doctor examined Louis’ neck, he could not have missed the injury.

After deliberating privately, the jury ruled in favour of Louis, and awarded him £4.1m for the pain and suffering he had experienced due to the doctor’s negligence, his loss of amenity and loss of income as he is unable to work. The jury also awarded Louis’ wife, Rebecca, another £1.1m for loss of consortium – the overall sum setting a new record for the highest doctor negligence claim settlement in the State of Wyoming.