Having Complications After A Spinal Epidural At A Pain Clinic? This Is What You Should Know
The risk of complications from a spinal epidural is surprisingly low–fewer than 1 in 20,000 patients experience permanent harm. However, when tragedy strikes and something goes wrong, the consequences are life altering. If you've experienced severe medical problems following an epidural injection in your back or neck at a pain clinic, this is what you should know.
What injuries are commonly associated with epidural injections?
There are a number of significant problems that patients can experience after an epidural:
- abscesses that won't heal
- injuries to single nerves that cause chronic, painful sensations or numb areas
- injuries to blocks of nerves that cause partial or complete paralysis
- blood clots that form due to irregular bleeding
- infections due to contaminated surfaces, needles, or injections
- arachnoiditis, or inflammation of the spinal cord
- respiratory arrest due to the IV sedation used by some doctors during injections
How do injuries like these happen?
While there's always some risk with medical procedures, doctors are expected to follow certain guidelines, or standards of care, specific to each procedure that they do. Spinal injections for pain are no exception. Some of the injuries patients experience can be caused by nothing more than doctors who don't adhere to those standards of care.
For example, doctors should make sure that they have MRIs done on patients before they perform injections into their spine. Patients with herniated discs or other medical complications can be at a higher risk of neurological injury. Doctors should also avoid placing epidurals above the C6-C7 vertebrae because there isn't enough epidural fat above that area to make the injections safe. A doctor that ignores those sorts of precautions is risking his or her patient's health and safety.
There are also indications that doctors who use heavy sedation during epidural injections for their patient's comfort levels may actually be putting patients at risk. Some patients have experienced respiratory arrest as a result and there are indications that a heavily sedated patient might not be able to give the doctor appropriate warning signals that he or she has placed the needle in the wrong area.
There are also problems with the materials that doctors use. Some pain clinics perform hundreds of these types of epidurals in any given week and may not take adequate precautions when sanitizing equipment to prevent infection, particularly if a patient has other medical problems, like immunosuppression. A hastily wiped down procedure table could spell disaster if a patient easily picks up infections. In a widely publicized incident, around 14,000 people were exposed to contaminated steroidal injections through pain clinics that all used a single compounding pharmacy to get their supplies.
What should you do if you've been injured?
If you've suffered from complications following an epidural injection in your back or neck while being treated at a pain clinic, talk to an attorney who handles medical malpractice claims. Medical malpractice is a specific area of law that focuses on mistakes that are made by doctors and other medical professionals when providing care.
A medical malpractice attorney can review your case and help determine if the doctor who treated you violated the expected standard of care in some way. If your injury was avoidable, you can seek compensation for your lost mobility, lost income, medical bills, future needs, and pain and suffering. Visit http://ml-law.net/ for more information.