Hospitals administer epidural blocks to help reduce pain during contractions and labor. This involves a needle injection to the spinal column to numb a patient from the waist down. Many people giving birth opt for them during the hardest parts of pregnancy.
This procedure is relatively common. However, there is a non-zero risk that improper technique or administration results in a spinal cord injury.
Epidural risks regarding SCIs
As the Association of Anaesthetists details, a report found that the incidence of permanent injury after a neuraxial technique — including epidurals — ranged between 2.0 and 4.2 per 100,000. This may result from direct trauma to the nerve roots, misidentification of correct vertebral levels or an undiscovered accumulation of blood in the epidural space.
Costs regarding SCIs
Sustaining an SCI from an epidural may seem like a rare risk. This is, however, a cold comfort to those experiencing this complication. SCIs may involve numbness, tingling or even paralysis of nerves below the vertebrae affected. As the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports, the first year costs of paraplegia average around $560,287. For new parents giving birth, this is a cost that threatens the stability of a family.
Compensation regarding SCIs
Any patient experiencing numbness or paralysis after an epidural may have a medical malpractice claim on their hands. In New Jersey, this requires an affidavit of merit from another practicing physician to confirm the possibility of medical malpractice. There are ways to help secure that documentation. Once confirmed, there are options for victims of this type of medical malpractice to seek compensation.