A 40-year-old physically active Kansas man had chronic lower back pain for which he sought steroid injections intended to alleviate his pain. He first had epidural steroid injections into his back in May 2008 that were performed at a pain management clinic run by Board-certified anesthesiologists. When the back pain returned, the man had a second set of steroid injections into his back in December 2008.
The December 2008 injections were ineffective, leading the man to return to the pain management clinic on January 5, 2009, for another epidural steroid injection into his lower back. The January 5, 2009 injection did not relieve his pain but a lump appeared in the area of the injection shortly after the procedure; he was told that some swelling is normal at the injection site. His family noticed the lump on his back at a family gathering, on January 11, 2009.
On January 13, 2009, the man returned to the pain management clinic for another epidural steroid injection into his lower back. The man alleged that he discussed the lump with a clinic nurse who observed the lump on January 13, 2009, before the injection. The nurse allegedly left the examination room but returned a few minutes later, advising the man that the pain management doctor told her that the lump was not a problem (the medical records did not mention the lump or the nurse’s observation of the lump).
The plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the January 5, 2009 injection caused an infection and that during the three-minute steroid injection procedure on January 13, 2009, the pain management doctor passed the needle through the infected area, spreading the infection into the man’s spinal cord.
The man’s condition deteriorated after the January 13, 2009 steroid injection. On January 21, 2009, the man was found disoriented in his apartment, was rushed to the hospital, and was subsequently diagnosed with meningitis that the plaintiff alleged was caused by MRSA (antibiotic-resistant bacteria) spread by the steroid injection. The serious infection left the man with severe and permanent spinal injuries resulting in constant pain, difficulty walking, impotency, and loss of bladder and bowel control. He could no longer work, due to the extent of his injuries.
The man filed his medical malpractice lawsuit against the pain management doctor and the pain management clinic in December 2010, but committed suicide before trial, allegedly due to his injuries. The medical malpractice defendants argued that the man had a history of bipolar disorder and had admitted himself to psychiatric hospitals for treatment of depression in the past, although his psychiatric conditions had been under control in recent years, according to his parents. The parents continued the medical malpractice lawsuit after their son’s suicide, in part to raise awareness of the possible complications from steroid injections used for pain management.
The Kansas medical malpractice jury’s verdict in the amount of $2.88 million that was reached in March 2014 will be reduced to about $1.67 million, pursuant to Kansas’ $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases.
If you, a family member, or someone you know may have been injured due to medial negligence in Kansas or in another U.S. state, you should promptly contact a Kansas medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical negligence case, if appropriate.
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