Medical Malpractice Involving Steroid Injection

A Kansas jury recently found that a Kansas doctor and pain clinic were guilty of medical malpractice that caused the death of a 40-year-old man, and awarded the Missouri family nearly $3 million.

The medical malpractice suit stems from a series a steroid injections beginning in May 2008. The patient, who suffered chronic lower back pain, visited a Kansas pain clinic in early 2008. In May, one of the physicians who operated the clinic injected medication into the patient’s back. This alleviated his pain for a while, but in December the patient was back in the clinic for a second round of injections. Unfortunately, those injections failed, and the patient returned to the clinic on January 5, 2009. The original treating physician was on vacation, so another operating physician attended to the patient. This physician administered an epidural steroid injection in the patient’s lower back. Soon after, the patient’s pain still had not subsided, and a lump started to appear where the needle had gone in. The medical malpractice suit states that the patient complained that the lump hurt but was told by the clinic that minor swelling at the injection site was normal.

About a week later, the patient went back to the clinic for another injection. According to the medical malpractice suit, at this time the patient told a nurse about the lump and the pain around it. After checking with the physician, the nurse said it was no problem.
After this final injection, the patient’s condition rapidly deteriorated. His family recalls him sitting immobilized on the couch, in intense pain about his legs and back, with a stiff neck and complaining of his head feeling on fire with pain. This had them worried, and on January 21, the patient’s girlfriend drove him to the emergency room after finding him disoriented in his apartment. At the hospital, the patient was diagnosed with meningitis caused by antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria. He was told he probably would die or be paralyzed, but the patient pulled through after about ten days. Sadly, however, the infection left the patient with significant spinal injuries. He was left impotent and without control of his bladder or bowels as a result of damaged and chronically inflamed spinal nerves. Additionally, he had great difficulty walking and constantly was in pain.

In December 2010, the patient filed a medical malpractice suit against the pain clinic and its doctors because he found it was impossible for him to work. He wanted to ensure he had the money he would need for future medical care and expenses, as well as help at home. Tragically, the once active and fun 40-year-old took his own life before having his chance to be heard in court.

Epidural steroid injections often can be done in a matter of minutes and in outpatient settings. However, while the procedure may be quick, doctors and nurses must be very careful and precise with the needle and the site of the injection. These injections are relatively safe, but this case goes to show that they sometimes do come with complications. Many medical mistakes involved medical malpractice, and that is when our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White are here to help.

Please contact me, Andrew G. Slutkin, with further questions or inquiries at 410-385-2786 if you believe you are a victim of negligent medical care.

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