I was thrown from a car when I was 15 yrs old. I landed on my lower back and head. After my first child, I began having sciatic problems. Years later I could no longer tolerate the pain. I had my first surgery by a very well respected surgeon, Dr. R.Thorn. He knew my lifestyle and tried to establish a secure base by using a clamp in my lower S1 area after fusing both sides. A year goes by and one side had not fused and a screw was moved again causing horrible pain. My insurance made me go to UCLA’s ortho dept.
There the head surgeon Dr.Steve Garfin reviewed my MRI. Quickly he remarked about using to much metal and that I had to have a two part surgery. 1. They go in through my back and remove all the inserted metals, the five days later #2 they go in through my stomach and refuse the area, taking bone from my hip and then turning me back over and insert screws. So, I WALK into the hospital, go under and wake up paralyzed. I’m strapped flat on my back. Asking I can’t feel my left side and simply his response was “Be glad you can feel your right side”. Then for the next ten days I’m completely out of it from the medication. They move me to a room on the tenth day and bring me back to a conscious state of mind. It was on a Saturday morning, no one around, the Dr. working the floor released me. I refused the wheelchair, I couldn’t let my young daughters see me like that. I took a walker and filled a prescription for 150mg of fentanol patches. I thought I just had back luck and a bad back. Went into my check ups and his assistants tried to explain it away by blaming the surgeon who opened me up through my stomach, though it happened after the first surgery??? Anyway, six months I go stumbling into my follow up appt. This is the first time I’ve seen or spoken to him since the remark in the hospital after the first surgery. He is all kind and asks why I’m stumbling and limping. As I’m sitting on the table in the very small room he is conversing with his assistant. This is what I hear “Oh, this is the one we didn’t have the right tool for”. Not quick enough to react and jump on him with my hands around his neck. I don’t act as if I even heard a word they said. I agree to a new MRI. After that visit I go to my original surgeon. Asking if you needed any tools to remove the clamp that was in my back. There was a special locking device that you needed the tool to remove it. I told Dr. Thorn what I heard and he put his head down and left the room. I find out that Dr. Garfin never even ordered copies of my medical records from my first surgery. He never even spoke to the company who supplies the equipment until afterwards. He broke titanium bolts from my back causing several dural tears into my spinal cord, leaving me to live in the most horrid torture chamber. The nerve pain, I would have episodes of continuous shocking tremors that would cripple me screaming for hours, 19 hours once. I went from being very active, involved to having to have myself detoxed from the coma state I lived in from the medicine, I live in pain, I’ve turned into a hermit and I just try to put on a brave face for my daughters. If it were not for them, I’d have caused Garfin the same fate as he gave me and then I’d put myself out of my misery. No one deserves to suffer year after year. This was done by the lead teaching ortho surgeon from one of the largest teaching hospitals in Southern Calif. No attorney would touch my case because of him being protected by the University.
They all just told me not to give up finding an attorney because the case was so horrible unthinkable, though they would be buried by the University and couldn’t afford to take the case. The law for malpractice is two years here in Calif. I wasn’t under sound mind to even find a good attorney. It has been 6 years and I still live this horrible nerve pain, I tried nerve stimulators and no surgeon in would consider tempting to go back into surgery. The almost promise I’ll come out completely paralyzed. Be very careful when considering surgery into you spinal cord. From your head to the tail of your back, it is not worth the risk and every possible means of trying to correct it without that knife should be made. The risks should be completely presented in a manner which equals the severity of what could happen. Garfin thought he was GOD or someone. Why didn’t he just close me up? What was in his head? He has no business teaching students, let alone practicing medicine at all. I’ve heard many more stories about him, it is very sad that he hides behind that school. My daughter wants to go to medical school, it will not be UCLA.