Case Vignette – December 2021

Case Vignette – December 2021

It’s All a Matter of Scale

I recently saw a young man who sustained an injury in the region of his cervical spine whilst playing touch football at an Army base in 2015. It appears as though it was a genuine injury giving rise to a discal protrusion and he was subjected to an operative discectomy.

As is sometimes the case, some of the disc material was not removed per-operatively and a further disc protrusion resulted eight or nine months later. It was confirmed with a second MRI scan. As a result, a second operation was performed.

Now, this chap was unlucky. A further recurrence occurred after a trivial incident at a restaurant and yet a third operation was required.

He was then involved in a relatively minor rear end collision. I say relatively minor because he did not lose consciousness, the rear of his seat was not broken, the damage to the vehicle was less than $1,000 and he was able to drive it from the scene of the accident for a further seven hours to a north Queensland location.

His cervical spinal symptoms however were apparently increased and six or seven months later, he was subjected to a fourth operation in the form of a cervical fusion.

His legal advisor suggested that he pursue not only the Australian Defence Force Army, but also the insurer covering the driver of the offending vehicle. It is always difficult to apportion blame accurately. In general terms however, it appeared to me that he was always destined to require that fourth operation and the rear end collision was of little or no significance.

What do you think?