Texas chiropractor medical malpractice

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer, I handle many types of medical negligence cases, including those involving chiropractic care.

I am currently handling two cases where patients experienced a stroke because of the dissection (tear) of an artery carrying blood to the brain. In both cases, the patients presented to a hospital emergency room with unusual symptoms that should have alerted the emergency physicians of the possibility of a dissection injury that could cause a stroke.

In one case, the patient complained of the worst headache of his life and went to an emergency room three days in a row to find out what was wrong. In the other case, the patient went to the emergency room two days in a row complaining of extreme dizziness associated with nausea and projectile vomiting.

These types of symptoms should be concerning to any doctor or nurse because they could be caused by a neurological problem. Thus, they require a thorough workup including diagnostic imaging, including a MRI or MRA (angiogram), to rule out an arterial dissection.

The medical experts that we retained to review these cases informed us that the standard of care requires emergency physicians and neurologists seeing such patients to conduct a thorough interview of the patient and family to see if the patient had experienced any recent trauma.

When doctors think that a dissected artery is a potential cause of a patient’s signs and symptoms, they should ask detailed questions that may trigger a memory of any sort of forgotten collision, fall, or trauma that may have occurred. Typical questions include things like whether you had a fall, hit your head, were in a car wreck, were assaulted, or had a sports injury over the past few months.

In a lawsuit that I am currently handling in Houston, ER providers never asked my client any of these questions until after he was discharged from an emergency room for three days in a row and then came back to the ER after having a massive stroke. It never occurred to the patient that bonking his head on something at work a few months earlier could explain his headaches, so he did not even think to mention it.

In another case, the patient informed the triage nurse and ER physicians on both emergency room visits that he had a bad fall to his chest about four days earlier and that he was experiencing a lot of pain from it. Unfortunately, the doctors and nurses apparently missed the significance of this information. They discharged him the first day he came to the ER, and had him wait for hours the second day even though he was in the early stages of having a stroke.

Have you seen a chiropractor recently?

One of the other questions that emergency room doctors and neurologists ask when they suspect that a patient might have a dissected artery is whether they have recently had any chiropractic treatment.

Chiropractors use different techniques to adjust back and neck vertebrae into better alignment, with the goal of reducing nerve compression or irritation. Many patients find that these chiropractic adjustments bring much-needed pain relief.

There are risks, though, of having a chiropractor manipulate the neck and back. If a chiropractor uses an improper technique, it can cause a new injury or worsen existing injuries to the neck or back. The most common injuries from chiropractic malpractice include disc herniation, breaking/fracturing vertebrae, nerve damage, pinched nerves, neck pain, lower back pain, and broken ribs.

There have also been numerous reports of overly-aggressive chiropractic care causing dissection of an artery that supplies blood to the brain. This, in turn, can cause a stroke.

What you can do

Any time that you seek medical care for potential neurological symptoms, like extreme headache, dizziness, and even nausea and vomiting, be sure to mention any recent trauma or chiropractic care that you have experienced. This may aid the doctors in considering the possibility of an arterial dissection and ordering appropriate tests or imaging to make the correct diagnosis.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of medical malpractice by a chiropractor or other healthcare provider, call the experienced medical negligence lawyers at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, at 281-580-8800, for a free consultation about your potential case. We handle cases throughout the State of Texas.


Robert Painter is a medical malpractice and wrongful death attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who focuses his practice on medical negligence lawsuits, which he files on behalf of patients and family members. He speaks and writes frequently on topics related to healthcare and medical malpractice, and currently serves on the editorial board of the Texas Bar Journal.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.