Medical malpractice: Compensation for nerve damage

nerve damage
27 Feb 2024

Nothing can make up for medical errors that result in disabling nerve damage.

However, where medical malpractice was the direct cause, it may be possible to secure financial compensation for nerve damage through a personal injury claim.

When nerve damage may constitute medical malpractice     

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or healthcare provider doesn’t perform their job properly.

They may misdiagnose a condition, neglect to provide the appropriate level of treatment and care, or cause injury or harm to a patient by prescribing the wrong medication or performing an incorrect procedure.

Malpractice may apply even when the patient has been informed of the potential risks and side effects of a procedure, and has given the doctor or surgeon consent to go ahead.

When poorly performed, some surgeries, like hernia and knee replacement operations, have a high risk of nerve damage, and even total severance of the nerves.

The incorrect use of tourniquets and surgical retractors, failure to relieve pressure caused by tight bandages, and injection-related trauma are all causal links to nerve damage arising from medical negligence or malpractice.

Nerve damage due to surgery    

Nerve damage may result from a wide range of surgeries, without any medical mistakes or improper practices being involved.

Typically, scarring is the main culprit. The formation of scar tissue post-surgery can constrict a nerve, hampering its ability to relay messages to the brain and receive the chemicals it requires to stay healthy.

However, nerve damage can also result from surgical malpractice. Excessive stretching or pressure on a nerve, the incorrect use of intubation tubes, and improper insertion of a drip into a vein or artery can lead to nerve-related complications.

Patients with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis already have compromised nervous systems. If a surgical team does not take the appropriate steps to mitigate the risk of nerve damage, it may constitute medical malpractice.

Nerve damage due to anaesthetic use

Nerve damage arising from the administration of anaesthesia varies according to the type of anaesthetic. Injury caused by direct contact between the needle and a nerve is typical of local anaesthetic.

The risk associated with general anaesthetic is the patient’s inability to sense a pinched nerve caused by long periods in one position on the table, and to correct it.

An error in the administration of regional anaesthetic can have severe implications. In this scenario, anaesthetic is injected directly into the spinal column. Any missteps or misjudgements can result in permanent damage to the spinal cord.

Compensation for nerve damage due to medical malpractice     

Nerve damage or injury following surgery or medical treatment may be as a result of negligence or an avoidable error. Under these circumstances, it’s possible to claim financial compensation.

Who is it possible to claim from?

A claim for compensation can be made against the attending doctor, the hospital or any other healthcare professional involved in the treatment and care of the patient.

The onus is on the claimant to prove negligent or erroneous conduct, and that nerve damage was a direct result of that conduct.

What can be claimed?

Depending on the circumstances, financial compensation can be claimed to cover past and future medical expenses, the cost of full-time care and loss of income, now and in the future.

Damages arising from pain and suffering and the loss of quality of life can also be included in a claim.

What’s needed to support a claim?

Evidence required to support a claim includes medical records, witness statements, invoices and receipts and bank statements or a termination of employment letter to prove loss of income.

In medical malpractice cases, expert testimony from qualified professionals experienced in that particular field of medicine is required to determine whether the correct treatment protocols and procedures were followed.

DSC Attorneys is a specialist personal injury law firm in Cape Town. It deals with cases related to medical malpractice, including claims for compensation for nerve damage.

If you have a potential claim due to medical malpractice, contact 0861 465 879. DSC Attorneys work on a “no-win, no-fee” basis.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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