All surgical procedures carry a certain amount of risk, such as blood clots, allergic reactions, and infection. It is the responsibility of the surgeon to inform a patient of these risks and take necessary steps to prevent patient injury. However, one procedure known as spinal cord stimulation carries certain dangers that could lead to severe harm. If you have been injured by a spinal cord stimulator, you can suffer from serious losses—and you may be eligible for compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation is a type of therapy used to help relieve multiple types of chronic pain, such as back pain, post-surgical pain, and arachnoiditis, a condition that involves the inflammation of a thin membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. Doctors also use this treatment to help patients suffering from spinal cord injuries, angina, and peripheral vascular disease.
Spinal cord stimulation is typically used when nonsurgical treatment options fail to provide sufficient pain relief. This treatment involves the use of devices known as spinal cord stimulators, which consist of thin wires known as electrodes and a battery-powered generator.
Surgeons place the generator under the skin and the electrodes between the spinal cord and the vertebrae, sending electrical impulses where the patient feels pain. Through this method, spinal cord stimulators replace painful sensations with feelings of light tingling. These electrical impulses are managed using a remote control device.
The Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulator
While spinal cord stimulators can benefit patients who suffer from chronic and severe pain, these devices carry significant risks. The stimulation may stop or work intermittently, the surgeon may place the stimulator in the wrong location, or over-stimulation may occur, leading to discomfort. Additionally, the stimulator can move or become damaged, requiring further surgery.
Other negative side effects include the following.
- The surgeon may implant the stimulator too close to a bone, organ, or nerve, leading to pain.
- Bacteria can be transferred into a patient’s body due to unsanitary equipment or facilities, leading to an infection or abscess.
- A stimulator may block signals from the bladder and bowel, leading to incontinence.
- Complications from spinal cord stimulator surgery can lead to a spinal fluid leak, resulting in a severe headache and other painful symptoms. The stimulator may be placed in the wrong location and stimulate the wrong nerves, leading to pain in the arms and legs.
What to Do if You Have Been Injured by Spinal Cord Stimulator
Surgeons who implant spinal cord stimulators have a duty to ensure that they perform the procedure correctly, warn patients about possible complications, and provide adequate aftercare instructions. If you have been injured by a spinal cord stimulator, you may could file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the healthcare professional responsible for your injury.
Through a Missouri medical malpractice claim, you can recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to the spinal cord stimulator injury. However, you will need to prove that the at-fault provider’s negligence caused the harm you are experiencing.
To protect your right to compensation after your injury, gather all records related to the procedure and your condition. Record any symptoms and complications you experience in a journal, and collect all relevant evidence related to the spinal cord stimulator malfunction.