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Spinal Cord Injuries From Epidural or Spinal Anesthesia
Northern Kentucky and Ohio Malpractice Attorneys for Anesthesia-Related Spinal Cord Injuries
Epidural spinal cord injuries are some of the most catastrophic outcomes associated with anesthesia procedures. They strike without warning, turning routine medical interventions like pain relief into life-altering events.
Spinal cord trauma can change a person’s life forever, so when it occurs as a result of negligence, victims deserve compensation for their losses. If you have suffered from an acute spinal cord injury as a result of epidural anesthesia or attempted epidural anesthesia, contact the Kentucky and Ohio medical malpractice lawyers at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm. We can help hold medical professionals accountable for their mistakes and ensure victims receive the compensation they deserve. Call us toll-free at (800) 698-4054 and schedule a free initial case evaluation to discuss your case with a professional from our team.
Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries from Epidural and Spinal Anaesthesia
In order to understand how epidural anaesthesia can cause a spinal cord injury, it’s important to understand what an epidural is and how it works. An epidural is a common form of regional anaesthesia often given to conscious patients for pain relief during labor and delivery or other medical procedures.
It involves the injection of anesthetic medication near the spinal cord in the lower back to block the nerve impulses from the lower spinal segments. This results in decreased sensation in the lower half of the abdomen, which helps to relieve pain during labor, cesarean delivery, or other abdominal surgery.
The spinal cord is situated in the spinal canal, where it is protected by layers of tissue and by bones, called vertebrae. There’s a gap of space between the spinal cord and the vertebrae called the epidural space, which is filled with cerebrospinal fluid to further protect the spinal cord.
The epidural needle is inserted through the skin of the lower back, between the vertebrae, and into this epidural space. The needle can then be used to insert an epidural catheter, which is a thin, flexible tube used to dispense the spinal anaesthesia into the epidural space. This is sometimes referred to as thoracic epidural catheterization.
The anaesthetic pain medicine is given to block nerve impulses that are being sent to the lower part of the spine in order to prevent these signals from reaching the brain. This effectively relieves pain while the patient is still conscious, allowing them to be awake for the birth of their child or for their abdominal procedure.
While epidural anaesthesia and general anaesthesia are administered in different ways, they can both still put a patient at risk for injury. Epidurals, in particular, can very easily cause serious injuries since the injection for an epidural is done so close to one of the body’s most vital and sensitive organs: the spinal cord.
What Can Go Wrong During Anesthesia?
During anesthesia, particularly with epidurals during labor and delivery, there are several risks and potential complications. Although severe complications with epidural anesthesia are rare, they still happen and can result in lifelong health issues. Some epidural anesthesia risks include:
- Allergic reaction to the anesthesia
- Low blood pressure
- Severe headache
- Infection at the injection site
- Loss of control over bladder and/or bowels
- Mild to severe spinal cord injuries
In addition to anesthetic injuries, patients can also suffer from catheter injuries, which can occur when the epidural catheter becomes knotted or part of it is retained after use.
Common Causes of Malpractice in Epidural and Spinal Anesthesia Procedures
Epidural anesthetics performed by skilled and experienced medical professionals rarely lead to anesthesia mistakes, but there are still a number of ways medical professionals can commit malpractice when administering spinal anesthesia.
For example, if the professional administering the epidural uses poor needle placement, they can cause needle trauma to the spinal cord, which could lead to serious neurological complications.
Additionally, if obstetric nurses and physicians fail to adequately monitor the patient or the fetus through epidural treatment, they may miss signs of maternal or fetal distress. This can cause potentially serious issues to go untreated for longer than they should. This could lead to serious birth injuries as a result of oxygen deprivation, like cerebral palsy.
Improper doses of anesthesia can also cause complications. Too much could cause blood pressure to become dangerously low, and too little could cause the patient to retain sensation in their abdomen, rendering the epidural mostly useless.
Before administering spinal and epidural anesthesia, the patient needs to be evaluated for risks, such as infection near the proposed injection site, acute shock, and an allergy to anesthetics. If the patient is not properly evaluated, healthcare professionals could give an epidural to a patient who is a poor candidate for treatment due to a higher risk of suffering complications.
Potential Epidural and Spinal Anesthesia Injuries
Epidural anesthesia can lead to a serious spinal cord injury or severe neurological complications like permanent paraplegia. Below are some of the potential injuries a patient may suffer from as a result of successful or attempted thoracic epidural anesthesia.
- Hypotension – low blood pressure
- Bradycardia – slow heart rate
- Respiratory depression – shallow breathing
- Epidural meningitis – inflammation of the spinal cord, normally caused by infection
- Post dural puncture headache (PDPH) – headache caused by leakage of cerebrospinal fluid from dural puncture
- Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma – accumulation of blood in the epidural space
- Anterior spinal artery syndrome – loss of blood flow to portions of the spinal cord, leading to paraplegia
- Cauda equina syndrome – compression of nerve roots near the end of the spinal cord
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries Post-Anesthesia
When someone suffers from spinal cord damage, they can experience a number of physical and neurological symptoms, including:
- Sensory impairment (loss of feeling)
- Muscle weakness
- Motor problems
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe, spontaneous pain in the back or neck
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can diagnose a number of different epidural-related spinal injuries, but knowing the signs and symptoms can help patients identify problems and their potential causes before seeking medical attention.
The Devastating Impact of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating diagnoses a person can face, often resulting in long-term effects that can profoundly alter one’s life. The impacts are not only physical but emotional and financial, challenging the very fabric of everyday living for both the individual and their loved ones.
Depending on the severity and location of the neurological injury, individuals may experience partial or complete paralysis. This can translate to loss of mobility, dexterity, and sensation, which may require the use of assistive devices like wheelchairs and/or assistive care from a caregiver. Assistive care can range from part-time support for those with partial mobility to round-the-clock care for individuals with more severe injuries like permanent paraplegia.
Due to the high cost of healthcare in the United States, the lifetime costs for someone with a severe spinal cord injury can exceed millions of dollars. Health insurance may cover some expenses like medical bills, medications, and assistive equipment, but many families of spinal cord injury victims find themselves burdened with substantial out-of-pocket costs.
The quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injuries can also be severely impacted. Losing partial or total ability to participate in activities like sports, travel, or simple recreational outings can be emotionally devastating and even socially isolating.
Having a compassionate legal professional on your side will not only benefit you in your personal interactions with your lawyer, but it will also benefit your case for compensation. We at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm understand the difficulties that those with spinal cord injuries face on a day-to-day basis, and can accurately estimate the costs of a victim’s past and future medical care. That way, we can ensure they receive fair compensation that will help take the financial burden of the situation off of their shoulders.
If you have suffered from a spinal cord injury following epidural treatment, you deserve compassionate and comprehensive legal representation. Call TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm toll-free at (800) 698-4054 to schedule a free initial case evaluation with a member of our team today.
Can You Sue for Anesthesia-Related Spinal Cord Injuries?
Yes, if you suffer from an inadvertent spinal cord injury caused by epidural anesthesia, you can sue for damages. An attorney can help you file a birth injury or medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical professional or professionals responsible for your injury.
Before a patient can be given any form of anesthesia, they need to be properly evaluated for certain risk factors. High-risk patients have a higher likelihood of suffering from severe complications as a result of regional anesthesia, and should not be given an epidural. If they are given an epidural, and they suffer from complications, the medical professionals who failed to properly evaluate them could be held liable in a lawsuit.
Additionally, in order to undergo epidural anesthesia, a patient must give informed consent before receiving treatment. If patients are not properly warned of the potential complications of epidural analgesia, then they cannot truly give informed consent.
If they do not give informed consent, they legally cannot receive treatment. If the patient receives treatment anyway, the medical professional who treated them may be sued for medical malpractice.
What You Could Be Entitled to After a Spinal Cord Injury
If you have suffered from spinal cord damage as a result of spinal anesthesia, you may be able to recover compensation for losses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy
- Assistive devices
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capability
- Lower quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological distress
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
- Funeral and burial expenses, if the injury results in wrongful death.
How TLF Advocates for Victims of Epidural and Anesthesia-Related Spinal Injuries
At TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm, our dedicated attorneys are well aware of the challenges that victims of medical malpractice spinal cord injuries face. From spinal tap malpractice to spinal cord birth injuries, we handle a range of spinal cord injury cases. Neurologic complications related to epidurals often have lifelong consequences. That’s why our legal team is steadfast in its commitment to fighting for maximum compensation on behalf of victims of spinal and epidural anesthesia injuries.
We will meticulously review medical records and obtain expert witnesses to prove that your medical providers failed to provide you with the minimum standard of care. We’ll also ensure that you receive compensation equal to your losses, so that you can focus on more on healing than paying bills.
If you have suffered from a neurologic injury as a result of regional anesthesia, contact the experts at TLF. We have experience handling cases of labor and delivery malpractice and other forms of medical malpractice, so you can rest easy knowing your case is in the right hands.
Contact the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm for a Free Initial Consultation
A spinal epidural is designed to provide safe and effective pain relief, so when it fails to do its job or causes additional pain, it’s clear that something is wrong. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of opstetric anesthesia like an epidural, the medical injury professionals at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm are here to help.
We have offices in both Covington, KY, and Cincinnati, OH, so contact our office nearest you to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our Kentucky office at (859) 898-2472 or call our Ohio office at (513) 643-1689. You can also call our toll-free number at (800) 698-4054 or contact us online and set up an appointment with us to discuss your case.
You Pay No Fees Unless We Win!
We are happy to offer a free consultation to evaluate your case. If you hire us as your legal counsel, we will represent you on a contingency-fee basis. You will pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover financial damages.