When patients undergo a medical procedure, there are risks and complications of which they should be aware. Risks are inherent with any surgery, but there are also circumstances in which a complication could be the result of medical negligence. One example in which this may happen is if the patient experiences nerve damage.
Potential Causes of Nerve Damage from Surgery or Medical Procedures
Inflammation from a surgery or other procedure could result in nerve pain, a fairly common side effect but it can also be the result of something going wrong during the procedure. For instance, a surgeon might accidentally cut a nerve during a procedure, leading to permanent nerve damage.
Another problem can occur from anesthesia (regional, local or general). If injected into a nerve, the medication or even the syringe can damage nerve tissue. An example is spinal cord nerves injured when the patient receives a spinal tap.
Putting the patient in a particular position for a long period of time can also lead to nerve damage. Patients cannot inform doctors that they are experiencing symptoms of nerve compression, so surgeons should move the patient periodically to reduce risk.
Symptoms That May Indicate a Patient Has Sustained Nerve Damage
Nerve damage can be temporary or permanent; many cases are only temporary. But it may still be weeks or even months before the patient experiences relief. The symptoms can vary, so it will be important to get an accurate diagnosis.
The following are some of the symptoms patients may experience:
- neuralgia (severe pain following path of nerve);
- prickling/tingling sensation;
- muscle atrophy;
- burning sensation; and
Symptoms can be mild, causing slight discomfort. They can also be so severe that it’s disabling. Unfortunately, for some people there is very little that can be done, especially if the damage is permanent. However, there may be medications or therapies prescribed in order to help reduce pain.
Determining if Nerve Damage Was Preventable and the Result of Malpractice
What’s important is determining whether or not nerve damage was caused by the doctor’s careless or reckless actions. In order to seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim, the patient would have to prove medical negligence.
This requires establishing that the surgeon (or another medical professional) failed to provide a reasonable standard of care. For example, if a surgeon nicked or lacerated a nerve, it could be argued that it’s not reasonable for a medical professional to make this type of mistake.
It would be necessary to thoroughly investigate the matter to determine if the doctor failed to exercise his/her duty of care. Patients must also prove that the act of negligence is directly connected to the resulting injuries. This may require medical expert testimony in many cases.
Finally, the patient must establish that he or she suffered damages. A lot of nerve pain and damage is temporary. If it goes away in a relatively short period of time with no lasting effects, it may not be basis for a medical malpractice claim.
Seeking Compensation for Nerve Damage Caused by Medical Negligence
If a surgeon or another medical professional is responsible for causing nerve damage that causes damages, the patient may pursue compensation for the damages. An injured person could seek recovery of malpractice-related damages through a medical malpractice claim, which may include compensation for additional medical costs incurred as a result of the nerve damage.
It’s also important to consider the long-term repercussions of living with permanent nerve damage. Pain and suffering, reduced quality of life and mental anguish are examples of compensation to which claimants may be entitled in addition to economic damages like medical bills and lost wages.
Learn more about your options during a free case evaluation with Gacovino, Lake & Associates. Set up your consultation by visiting our contact page or call us at 800-550-0000.