Epidural steroid injections are becoming an increasingly common method to relieve chronic pain. While the quick, outpatient procedure does have some possible risks, these are considered relatively rare for an invasive procedure. However, a recent Cook County medical malpractice case illustrates how medical negligence can drastically change a patient’s outcome even in a relatively minor procedure.
The Illinois wrongful death case involved an allegedly improperly placed needle during an epidural steroid injection which led to the patient’s cardiopulmonary arrest and death. At trial, the decedent’s estate argued that the anesthesiologist not only puncture the membrane lining which covers the spinal cord, but also failed to administer the lidocaine into the subdural space over the spinal cord. The combination of these two anesthesiology errors led to the disastrous outcome for this Illinois woman.
The Illinios medical malpractice was not limited to the incorrect procedure, but continued to occur. The decedent’s estate further argued that the woman might have survived if she had been properly intubated when she was being resuscitated. The estate alleged that during the resuscitation efforts that an endotracheal tube was placed in her esophagus instead of where it needed to be, in her trachea.
However, the defense denied that the intubation was negligently performed and claimed that the endotracheal tube could have become dislodged during the ambulance ride to the hospital. Regardless, both sides agreed on the final results – the patient suffered brain damage and died the very next day when life support was discontinued. The Cook County jury took seven hours to deliberate before returning a $2.91 million verdict against the anesthesiologist and his doctor’s group.
The decedent in this case suffered chronic neck pain due to degenerative disease and was an ideal candidate for an epidural steroid injection. The typical risks include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and dural bleeding. The outcome for this patient was above and beyond what was expected or typical following epidural injections, and was a result of the Illinois anesthesiology error and Cook County medical negligence. This poor woman’s outcome was not only unexpected, but it could have been avoided.
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