Patient Story

Your Name: Geraldine Noelte

Patient's Name/Relationship: Myself

City/State: Foxborough Massachusetts

When did event occur (what year)? 2015

Where did event occur? Acute Care General Hospital

What type of medical harm did you experience or witness? Combination of Above or "Other". Please explain.

Please describe what happened. Your story will appear on our website exactly as you have written it unless there is a problem, in which case we will contact you for clarification. At Brigham & Woman's Hospital I underwent a "Anterior Cervical Micro-Disectomy with Fusion/Bone Graft". I was 70 years old and smoked cigarettes. Post surgery, after two-rounds of physical therapy, my head still remained in a chin-to-chest position. Returning to the doctor to learn why, he looked at the x-rays and declared, "Well, the reason your head is bent is because you smoked after surgery! Your smoking kept it from healing properly! I won't go near you with a ten-foot pole until you can prove to me you quit smoking, permanently....." In the months that followed, all but one, of my doctors agreed smoking was the cause and I'll have to live with this deformity. I did not believe my smoking was the answer and after being told, "Good lucK" by my PCP, who vehemently agreed with that doctor, I sought a second opinion. The second-opinion Doctor was at Tufts Medical Center. He looked at his x-rays and said, "This is not from smoking. Gerri this is bad. Your bones were not properly aligned and fused in the wrong position. This has to be fixed, and soon." Then, he leaned close and said, "Gerri it doesn't get any worse than this, of all I do, this is the most serious. You need to make end-of-life decisions and put your affairs in order. To repair this I need to chisel and break the fused bone in order to re-align them properly. If I miss on one side, the aorta, you'll have a stroke and die; if I miss on the other side, I'll hit your spinal cord and you'll die." "I will need three days, day 1 to break the bone, day 2 to rest, day 3 to finish". "I can't promise the outcome, and there is the possibility of your being paralyzed from the waist down." "This is not from smoking."

What was the outcome of the medical harm issue? Permanent disability