Patient Story

Your Name: Steven Weiss

Patient's Name/Relationship: Gary Weiss/Father

City/State: Ridgewood/New Jersey

When did event occur (what year)? 2007

Where did event occur? Acute Care General Hospital

What type of medical harm did you experience or witness? Surgical Error

Please describe what happened. In March of 2007, my father Gary Weiss went into Valley Hospital for a scheduled open heart surgery. When the surgery was over the heart surgeon advised us that it was a routine surgery and that everything went great. The next afternoon I walk into Valley Hospital and see my Grandmas face in terror. When my father woke up from surgery he was unable to move any limb except his shoulders and elbow. Somehow during the surgery or recovery (nobody knows) he suffered 2 herniated disks in his neck and became a quadriplegic. He had no history of any sort of spinal cord injuries. 2 days later they did a 4 hour surgery to remove the herniated disks to install metal plates. After the surgery we were advised by the neck surgeon that the next 48 hours would be critical to determine what type of recovery he would make and it was impossible that he would make a full recovery. A week later he is sent to Kessler Rehab while his body is still filling up with fluid. While at Kessler Rehab he passes out and is taken to a nearby hospital. They see that he had 60 pounds of fluid in his body and start draining it out. After a little over a week on diraetics the fluid is gone and he returns to Kessler. He later on is transferred to less instense rehab center. A couple of months later he returns home and is doing outpatient. After a year he reaches full recovery which is walking with a leg brace and a cane. He is able to drive again but is still very disabled and unable to work or do anything of any physical ability. Additionally the spinal cord injury prevents him from being able to control his urine and he needs to wear adult diapers. In August of 2013 he gets a foot infection from the leg brace (he had drop foot from the spinal injury and required a leg brace) and ultimately has a heart attack from it in rehab after having some toes removed). He died on 09/7/13 (6 1/2 years to the day he woke up as a quadriplegic). This happened at 49 and he died at 56. Decades of his life was stolen from him due to medical error in 2007. Similar to the documentary bleed out there was no evidence of wrongdoing and we were unable to sue. Fortunately my father had an independent disability policy which supplement Social Security otherwise we would have gone broke and lost our house. There was still major financial damage as he lost the ability to work at 49 and lost out on at least 1.5 million dollars of wages over the next 20 years. 

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