Improper Implementation of a Nerve Block Before Surgery Leads to Permanent Disability
One of Fronzuto Law Group’s latest medical malpractice case victories concerns the negligent performance of a nerve block prior to shoulder surgery, which ultimately left an otherwise healthy 46-year-old woman permanently disabled. While the woman was scheduled for a relatively standard surgical procedure to remove and biopsy a bony lesion in her shoulder and repair a rotator cuff tear, the improper implementation of a nerve block preceding the surgery caused permanent damage from which she can never be expected to fully recover.
A Temporary Procedure, a Lifelong Disability
The plaintiff in this case initially sought diagnosis and treatment from an Orthopedic Practice in Northern New Jersey for pain in her right shoulder. She was subsequently diagnosed with right shoulder calcific tendonitis and a torn rotator cuff. After treatment with oral steroids, followed by cortisone injection, did not alleviate her pain, her doctor recommended surgery.
On the day of the planned shoulder surgical procedure, the surgeon explained the risks involved, which include bleeding, infection, stiffness after the surgery, and a possible risk of retear. She was then sent for a nerve block to be administered preoperatively, signing a consent form which does not list nerve injury among the potential risks, despite its existence as a possibility when nerve blocks are given.
What is a Nerve Block?
A nerve block is a type of procedure performed either to manage or avoid pain. The procedure essentially employs medication to block the pain that would otherwise be felt in particular nerves. Typically, a nerve block is given as an injection. Epidurals are a leading example of nerve blocks, often utilized by doctors to alleviate the painful process of giving birth. Nerve blocks can also be used before surgery, as was done in the aforementioned case, to ensure that the patient does not feel the surgical procedure while it occurs. The intention with surgical nerve blocks is to prevent the patient from feeling the pain of surgery, after which the nerve block will wear off and the individual will no longer experience complete loss of feeling.
Negligently Administered Nerve Block Results in Permanent Disability
After undergoing the nerve block, the client was taken to surgery. Upon awakening in recovery immediately following the operation, she reported feelings of heat and heaviness in her right hand, as well as numbness in her arm. She was assured that these symptoms would subside and were simply a temporary consequence of the nerve block that she was given.
Weeks later, she returned to her doctor with symptoms including a shoulder drop, pain in her scapula, numbness in her right fingers, and mottled skin. Based upon these symptoms and the location of her pain, the physician suspected a nerve injury caused by the nerve block. Upon testing and consultation with a neurologist, yet another doctor attributed her shoulder drop to an injured nerve. After several months of physical therapy and medication, she saw the original physician again, who concluded that she suffered permanent nerve damage due to the nerve block. All told, at least three treating physicians attributed her nerve injury to the block.
Ultimately, this woman was diagnosed with a right accessory nerve injury resulting in scapular winging, shoulder dysfunction, brachial neuritis, and right complex regional pain syndrome (“CRPS”). Given her condition, she has been declared permanently disabled. Despite her permanent disability, she continues to undergo treatment which includes physical therapy, trigger point injections, and medication for pain reduction.
As a result of medical negligence in this matter, the victim suffered a right sided spinal accessory nerve injury unexpectedly when set to undergo a commonplace, reasonably straightforward procedure. Her injuries, and those like them, are usually caused by direct trauma of a sharp object into the neck. In this case, said sharp object just so happened to be a needle. This trajectory of events, amounting to causation, is a crucial element that must be effectively satisfied in order to prove a medical malpractice action.
The Ramifications of an Inappropriately Performed Nerve Block
As of today, our client has lost the majority of function in her right hand and arm, in addition to suffering from chronic pain. She also suffers from drop shoulder, which significantly impacts her ability to function. Additionally, a condition known as scapular winging prevents her from pushing, pulling, or rotating her right arm, representing a major disability.
The woman’s options for recovery are limited and her shoulder and spine will never be completely restored. Due to the permanence of her condition, she needs treatment and management for the remainder of her life. Moreover, the substantial loss of function in her previously dominant arm and her chronic pain, coupled with neurologic deficits, will prevent her from returning to work at her previous occupation. She is likewise unable to transition to other occupations aligned with her functional capabilities and skill set. As such, she has been deemed permanently disabled.
Securing the Victim’s Legal Rights and Financial Compensation
Sadly in this case, a nerve injury caused by negligence during a nerve block left a woman with permanent disabilities, loss of employment and associated income, chronic pain, loss of enjoyment of life, and functional and aesthetic damage from which she will never entirely recover. This medical malpractice lawsuit was handled by the accomplished team of medical malpractice lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group, who achieved a settlement at the maximum allowable limit under the policy.
With the $1,000,000 recovery, our client can, at the very least, move forward with her life, easing the financial strain of job loss and ongoing medical expenses. While her shoulder will never be fully restored, she can walk away with the fundamental knowledge that she held negligent healthcare providers responsible for their substandard care and obtained the compensation she deserves for economic and non-economic damages.
Contact Fronzuto Law Group for Assistance with Your Potential Claim for Nerve Block Injuries in New Jersey
If you suspect that you have been injured by a negligently administered nerve block, whether it be a preoperative measure, an epidural during labor and delivery, or another procedure affecting pain receptors in your nerves, Fronzuto Law Group is fully prepared to assist you. With a focus on medical malpractice law in New Jersey, our experienced attorneys intensively investigate healthcare provider negligence claims to pinpoint the source of our clients’ injuries. When we find instances of medical negligence by providers or facilities, we assemble the most comprehensive body of evidence to secure our clients’ justice and compensation. Our medical malpractice lawyers can provide further answers and guidance regarding your potential claim by contacting our firm. We are pleased to offer entirely confidential, complimentary consultations. Call 973-435-4551 for immediate assistance.