Do You Have A Case For Your CRPS Or Nerve Damage After A Blood Draw Or Needle Stick?

When you are having blood drawn from your arm – whether it is for labs ordered by your doctor or because you are doing a blood or plasma donation – you can unfortunately suffer severe injuries to your arm and nerves if the draw is not done properly. Important factors in avoiding blood draw and needle stick injuries are the company or medical office doing the draw having appropriately trained staff (phlebotomists) who know how to find your vein and insert the needle correctly. Another factor is the staff or phlebotomist doing the draw being trained to know if they have caused a serious injury – such as compartment syndrome – so the injury can get immediate treatment.

One type of injury you can suffer during a blood draw is infiltration. This is when fluid leaks out of the vein being stuck or injected and leaking into the surrounding soft tissue. Sometimes your blood draw will be done by apheresis. This is when blood is withdrawn at high-speed using a machine. As a result of these high speed withdraws, when an infiltration occurs, the injury can be much worse than with a standard blood draw. This is because of the high positive pressure and high flow rates imposed by the apheresis machine. Infiltration here results in a large amount of fluid being pumped into the arm very quickly. This in turn leads to major compartment syndromes where the high hydrostatic pressure in the tissue can cause muscle and nerve damage.

What is compartment syndrome? This is a dangerous syndrome that results when pressure builds in your arm due to a build up of fluid. Compartment syndrome in turn can lead to the ulnar or other nerves in your arm becoming compressed, and can lead to permanent nerve damage in the affected arm. This nerve damage can result in ongoing pain, weakness, and limited use of the arm.

Therefore, if a company or medical care provider is performing a blood draw by apheresis, it is important they have well trained staff or phlebotomists on hand who know how to draw your blood properly and safely without causing an infiltration. Or if an infiltration injury and compartment syndrome is caused, the staff doing the draw should be trained to recognize that so they can help you get treatment for those conditions as soon as possible. With earlier treatment of your compartment syndrome, you may be able to avoid serious nerve damage or other complications, although this is not always the case.

The needle stick for the blood draw can also damage the nerve itself and lead to ongoing issues in your affected arm due to that nerve damage. It can also lead to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), otherwise known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). This is an injury to your nerves that affects the central and peripheral nervous system resulting in: feelings of intense burning and other forms of pain; hyperesthesia (when light to moderate stimuli causes significant pain), allodynia (when non-painful stimuli, such as light touch, can be very painful), skin discoloration, changes in temperature, and swelling.

If you do suffer a CRPS injury following a blood draw, it will be classified as a CRPS type II injury because needle stick injuries usually involve some kind of puncture injury to a nerve. CRPS type II injuries involve a distinct injury to the nerves.

An example of a medical malpractice claim related to a needle stick injury that causes CRPS is if the vein is punctured at the wrong angle to draw blood. The Clinical and Laboratory Standard Institute (‘CLSI’) has published phlebotomy standards that state the vein should be punctured at a 30 degree angle. Also, according to these standards if there is reason to believe someone suffered an injury or nerve damage during the blood withdrawal, it must be immediately stopped and the needle removed in order to prevent further damage. The incident should be documented and assistance should be sought by a nurse supervisor.

CRPS is known as a chronic pain issue – meaning it has lasted six months or longer. It can range in its severity and sometimes the symptoms of CRPS can go away on their own. In other instances it can last years or become permanent. If the affected limb becomes cold and pale, or undergoes skin and nail changes as well as muscle spasms and tightening, the condition is often irreversible. Sometimes CRPS can spread to other parts of the body.

In order to prove you suffered nerve damage or CRPS due to negligence during a blood draw your attorney will have to obtain your medical records and then review them with medical experts. These experts could include phlebotomists, blood transfusion experts, neurologists, and orthopedic doctors.

You will also need to prove your damages through your records showing the diagnosis and treatment of your nerve or CRPS injuries, lost wages you may have due to those injuries, and any other limitations and impacts on your life those injuries have.

The Thistle Law Firm is experienced at handling nerve damage and CRPS claims following blood draws, plasma donations, and needle sticks. If you believe you may have suffered such an injury following a blood draw or plasma donation, the attorneys at The Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call at 215-568-6800.

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