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Posted On August 12, 2022 Personal Injury

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Medical Malpractice

Our CRPS Attorneys Answer Patients’ Most Frequently Asked Questions

CRPS PainCan the tiny tip of a hypodermic needle lead to serious, incurable nerve damage? The number of lawsuits being filed by individuals who have suffered injection-needlestick-injury induced complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is on the rise. In many of these cases, a routine blood draw gone wrong is reported to have led to the debilitating condition.

What Is CRPS?

The acronym “CRPS” stands for complex regional pain syndrome. This condition is characterized by experiencing prolonged and excessive pain, as well as changes in the skin, muscles, and bone of the affected limb. People living with CRPS might experience an abnormal amount of pain that results from very light physical contact, feeling a breeze on the skin of the affected limb, or spontaneously, for no apparent reason at all.

CRPS is caused by trauma or injury to small nerve fibers in the body, although in many cases, it isn’t possible to identify a distinct nerve that has been damaged. Complex regional pain syndrome is not curable, but it is treatable. Most cases of CRPS are relatively mild and temporary, with patients recovering as the damaged nerve heals and regrows over a period of months to years. However, some patients experience severe symptoms that may be permanent.

The nerve trauma that can cause CRPS to develop may result from many different types of injuries. However, our attorneys have recently seen more CRPS patients coming forward who haven’t sustained inciting injuries or undergone surgery but rather appear to have developed CRPS from venipuncture—blood draws, injections, and other routine procedures involving needles.

How a Needle Stick Injury Occurs

What kind of medical error could put a patient at risk for developing complex regional pain syndrome? The most common types of errors to occur in instances of medical malpractice that involve needlestick-injury-induced CRPS include:

  • Needle placement errors: The form of medical malpractice that is most likely to lead to the type of nerve injury that causes CRPS is improper placement of the needle. For example, a phlebotomist or nurse may hit the median nerve in the patient’s arm and shoulder during a venipuncture procedure. Even minor damage to a nerve can cause an injury that is serious enough to produce symptoms of CRPS, according to the journal Pain Medicine.
  • Injection volume errors: Other errors in venipuncture are specific to injections rather than blood draws. An injection volume error can occur when the nurse or other medical professional administers an incorrect dosage—particularly when the patient is given too much of the medication.
  • Injection delivery errors: When the medication is injected into the patient’s vein too quickly, it may constitute an injection delivery error.
  • Other deviations from the standard of care: All healthcare providers are responsible for adhering to the standard of care established by the larger medical community. Any deviation from that standard that leads to a careless needle stick may also set the stage for nerve injuries that could potentially lead to complex regional pain syndrome.

Not every case of complex regional pain syndrome arises out of medical malpractice. However, considering how much this painful condition can turn your life upside-down, it’s worth taking advantage of the offer of a free consultation with an experienced CRPS lawyer if you have any reason to wonder whether medical malpractice might have contributed to your disability.

RSD/CRPS Lawsuit Settlements and CRPS Jury Verdicts

How much money can you expect to get from a CRPS compensation claim? Your payout will depend upon factors like the severity of your condition and the extent of your damages, as well as how compelling the medical malpractice case against the healthcare professional who performed the procedure is.

As of 2022, some CRPS lawsuit settlements and verdicts have amounted to payouts in the range of tens of thousands of dollars. Other cases pertaining to complex regional pain syndrome have produced compensation amounts in the millions of dollars range.

CRPS Lawsuit FAQs

Can a Needle Stick Cause Nerve Damage?

Can a needle puncture a nerve, and if so, can it cause meaningful injury?

Your body is filled with tiny nerve fibers that transmit signals—touch, pain, temperature, and other sensory perceptions—throughout the body to the brain. A needle stick performed in the vicinity of the individual’s nerves could puncture these nerve fibers, especially if improperly performed.

Punctures sustained by the nerve fibers can injure the nerve. This nerve damage can give rise to the symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome.

It can be difficult to accept that a condition that affects your life as much as CRPS can result when the trauma sustained by a nerve is only the minuscule size of a needle’s tip. However, researchers have determined that an injury doesn’t have to be extensive or cover a large area of the body to trigger this excruciating condition. “Even minor distal nerve injuries are sufficient to produce CRPS-like symptoms,” researchers concluded in an article published in the journal Pain Medicine. “A large or major nerve injury is not necessary.”

Can I Sue for Nerve Damage After a Blood Draw?

Can you sue for CRPS arising out of a routine blood draw or injection? You may be able to sue, but for your case to be successful, you would need to be able to provide evidence that the healthcare provider who performed the blood draw committed medical negligence and deviated from the standard of care.

To achieve this result, you will need to have an experienced medical malpractice attorney review your medical records and consult with expert witnesses who are qualified to provide expert testimony to support your case.

Can Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome Spread?

It is, unfortunately, possible for CRPS pain to spread. If the original injury affected only a relatively small area of a limb, CRPS pain might spread to a larger region or the entirety of the limb.

A rarer phenomenon known as “mirror pain” has also been reported. In mirror pain, the patient develops similar, though usually less severe, symptoms in the same location on the opposite limb.

The spread of CRPS pain most commonly occurs when a patient suffers from chronic inflammation. This means that promptly getting appropriate treatment to manage inflammation, as well as other symptoms of CRPS, is critical not only for finding relief from the symptoms you are already experiencing but also for reducing the likelihood of symptoms spreading.

The earlier your condition is diagnosed and treated—and the more effectively your symptoms, especially inflammation, are managed—the better your prognosis is likely to be.

Is Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome a Disability?

Is CRPS a permanent disability? In most cases, CRPS does get better, but reaching full recovery can take months or even years. Sadly, for some patients, the pain and disability caused by CRPS are permanent.

Cases of CRPS can range from mild and temporary—lasting only a few months—to severe and permanent. Patients with the mildest cases of injection-needlestick-injury-induced CRPS may never suffer symptoms serious enough to interfere with their work or the most important activities of their daily life, and their symptoms may resolve within a few months. Other individuals suffering from CRPS may find themselves completely and permanently disabled.

For many patients, the level of disability posed by CRPS is somewhere in between these two extremes. You may be too fully disabled to work for a matter of months or even years, or your disabilities may only be partial, requiring a change in job duties.

If your CRPS is severe enough to interfere with your work or your life in significant ways, including partial or temporary disabilities, then it’s worth speaking to a needlestick nerve injury attorney about your legal options. A complex regional pain syndrome lawsuit can compensate you for missed time at work, decreases in future earning potential, inability to perform your normal domestic duties, and other losses.

Our malpractice attorneys are standing by to answer your questions during a free, no-obligation consultation. We make every client our No Fee Promise and provide high-quality legal representation on a no-win, no-fee basis. Call (866) 778-5500 to get your case started today.