A St. Louis, Missouri, woman was awarded more than half a million dollars in a medical malpractice lawsuit after a doctor at a pain management clinic left a hypodermic needle embedded in her back seven years ago.
The jury in the four-day trial agreed with the woman that the doctor at the pain management clinic was negligent in treating her after embedding a 1½-inch needle in the woman's back during a trigger point injection treatment in December 2009. The woman, who is in her late 60s, sued the doctor and the physicians group that ran the now-closed pain clinic. At the time of the injury, the woman was seeking treatment for bulging and degenerative discs. After the mistake, the doctor tried five times in her office to extract the needle, which has since migrated six inches, becoming even more difficult to try to remove.
The jury awarded a $507,000 judgment, which the doctor's attorney said they will appeal.
Trigger point injections are used for the management of pain in some patients. They treat areas of muscle that contain trigger points -- knots of muscle that form when muscles do not relax. To do this, doctors inject a trigger point with a local anesthetic or saline, which might also include a corticosteroid. Prescription corticosteroids provide relief for inflamed areas of the body by easing swelling. The injection is supposed to deactivate the trigger point and alleviate the pain. It can be used to treat fibromyalgia, tension headaches and may be effective in lessening myofascial pain syndrome (muscle pain) that does not respond to noninvasive treatments.
One potential complication of a trigger point injection is that it may may irritate the nerves around the injection site, causing “referred pain” that is felt in another part of the body. Another potential complication is general post-injection pain. Although it is relatively uncommon, it is more likely to occur when no medication is injected into the trigger point, a treatment called dry needling. If a steroid medication is injected into the trigger point, there is also a risk the fat under the skin will shrink, leaving a dent.
A 2014 analysis of more than 10,000 anesthesia-related malpractice claims showed that the number of lawsuits related to chronic pain management has been increasing for the past 30 years, as have the severity of adverse reactions to pain management treatments. In the past, many pain management claims involved epidural steroid injections. Any injuries that resulted tended to be minor and temporary. However, analysis of more recent closed-claims cases show adverse results include major neurologic injury and death. (A closed claim is a claim that has been settled.)
If you have suffered an injury due to medical negligence, or if a loved one has died, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.