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CRPS/RSD Lawsuit Due to Medical Malpractice

Radial Nerve Palsy and RSD

If you suffer from CRPS/RSD as a result of medical malpractice, you’ve come to the right place.

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a form of chronic pain that affects the arms and legs.

CRPS flares up after patients are injured or undergo medical intervention. In CRPS, the pain is significantly out of proportion to the initial injury. The most common form of CRPS is type 1 CRPS. Type 1 CRPS used to be called (and is sometimes still referred to as) reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD). Around 90% of all cases of this condition are classified as type 1 CRPS, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

CRPS/RSD can’t be cured, but it can be treated. However, this painful condition can become debilitating and lead to irreversible changes in your body. You may suffer permanent changes in the texture of your skin, atrophy of your muscles, and breakdown of your bones.

When a healthcare practitioner negligently punctures a nerve while drawing blood, giving you an injection, inserting a PICC line, or otherwise performing venipuncture, their moment of negligence or inattention could leave you with a lifetime of pain.

If you suffer from RSD in a way that affects your day-to-day life, you might have a viable malpractice case. You shouldn’t have to keep suffering because of someone else’s mistake. Talking to a legal professional at a law firm with experience handling CRPS/RSD liability cases is the first step. Call (866) 778-5500 for a free, confidential consultation with the legal team at Console & Associates, P.C.

Why Are People Suing for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Woman laying on a bed
CRPS/RSD is a condition that results from trauma to the peripheral and central nervous systems. Experts still aren’t sure exactly why patients develop CRPS, but the condition is associated with nerve damage, according to UW Medicine.

Most cases of CRPS/RSD result from injuries of some kind, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. A scenario that our attorneys have seen become more common in recent years is CRPS/RSD cases that allegedly arise out of needlestick-induced nerve injury. Pain that remains following a needlestick injury is considered neuropathic pain, or pain resulting from nerve damage, researchers noted in an article published in Rinsho Byori, the Japanese journal of clinical pathology.

In CRPS, as in many other medical conditions, treatment is easier when doctors diagnose it early, according to Mayo Clinic. The severity of nerve pain tends to be lower in patients who receive immediate treatment.

Patients put trust in their doctors and nurses in hopes that they will make them better, not worse. When a routine blood draw or injection leaves a patient with chronic pain, the patient may have legal recourse.

Whether the healthcare provider or hospital caused your CRPS or failed to diagnose it, you’re the one who has to suffer for their mistake. You left the hospital worse off than you were before, and you may have the right to financial compensation as a result.

CRPS and RSD Are Rare—But Devastating

Just how rare is CRPS from a needlestick?

Many patients think chronic pain is a normal part of treatment. It’s not. Experts consider both CRPS and RSD extremely rare, and there should be cause for concern if you develop it—especially from a routine needlestick procedure, like a blood draw or injection.

Consider, as an example, the number of patients who develop complex regional pain syndrome from a vaccine. CDC data shows that just 22 of the 67 million patients who received doses of an HPV vaccine between 2006 and 2015 reported developing CRPS. The likelihood of developing complex regional pain syndrome from the injection was proven to be nominal, just a tiny fraction of a single percentage point. Generally, when a shot is administered properly, chronic pain should not occur. Even among people who do sustain nerve damage from an injury or medical intervention, developing full-blown CRPS is uncommon, although the condition occurs more commonly with some injuries or surgical interventions than others.

There are fewer than 200,000 cases of CRPS in the United States, according to an article published in Pain Physician, the journal of the Association of Pain Management Anesthesiologists and the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.  The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) officially classifies CRPS as a rare disease.

In many ways, the development of CRPS—specifically, why some patients develop this severe, chronic condition while most patients don’t—remains mysterious. Clinicians and medical researchers are still learning about the causes of this serious medical condition.

CRPS Often Goes Undiagnosed—and Untreated

Patients with CRPS have the best prognosis when medical intervention begins early on in the development of the condition. Although there is no cure for CRPS, there are many types of treatments that are used to manage the condition and facilitate regrowth of the damaged nerve and recovery of the patient, and most of these treatments have been found to be more effective when initiated in the early stages of the condition.

Despite the importance of early intervention for CRPS patients, the uncommon condition often goes undiagnosed, which means that patients suffer longer and the condition progresses to a greater level of severity.  There is no single set of diagnostic criteria for diagnosing CRPS and no single test that can be used to conclusively confirm the condition. Rather, doctors often diagnose CRPS by performing numerous tests that rule out other causes of the patient’s symptoms.

The difficulties in reaching a definitive diagnosis mean that it often takes longer for patients with CRPS to start getting treatment to effectively manage their symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. A recent Oslo University study found a mean time delay to CRPS diagnosis of 4 years.

CRPS Stages

Complex regional pain syndrome progresses through three stages, described as follows:

  • Stage 1, also called the acute stage, can last one to three months and includes symptoms like severe pain that gets worse with even light physical contact; joint pain; muscle spasms; changes in skin temperature, color, and texture consistent with inflammation; and rapid hair and nail growth. Generally, treatments for CRPS have been shown to be more effective when administered during the early stages of the disease development than after the condition has progressed.
  • Stage 2, also known as the subacute stage, can last between three and six months. Pain symptoms get worse during this stage, and the weakening of muscles and stiffening of joints may also occur. While skin changes may continue to progress, hair growth slows, and nails crack.
  • Stage 3 is the chronic phase that is sometimes referred to as the “cold phase” because it occurs as the inflammation caused by nerve damage dwindles. CRPS pain during the chronic stage becomes more persistent even when the individual is at rest and is generally harder to treat effectively.  During this stage, the skin, muscles, tissues and even bones in the affected limb may waste away. The pain and atrophy that exists at this point can hinder a patient’s ability to move the limb—perhaps permanently.

CRPS Pain Scale

When RSD cases go undiagnosed, patients go untreated and suffer in pain.

graph the McGill pain index for select conditions

Just how painful is complex regional pain syndrome? The McGill Pain Index measures pain levels based on severity, awarding a numerical score between 1 and 50. For example, non-terminal cancer scores in the mid-20s on the McGill Pain Index, while a severe sprain or arthritis scores in the high teens and childbirth scores in the 30s. According to the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA), CRPS scores 42 out of a possible 50 points, making the condition considerably more painful than most acute, short-term ailments—but this pain can last for years or potentially a lifetime. 

Failing to diagnose CRPS within a reasonable timeline sets patients up for a lifetime of excruciating pain. You’re not getting the proper care you need to make your symptoms bearable now or to prevent them from getting worse in the long term.

The Challenges of Diagnosing CRPS

Because there is no one test that can be performed to definitively diagnose CRPS, your path to a diagnosis may look different from that of other patients. Whatever your CRPS diagnosis process looks like, achieving the right diagnosis as soon as possible is critical for putting together a treatment plan that will actually help you live a better life. Throughout the process of getting diagnosed, be honest with your doctor about how you are feelingthat is, don’t downplay your symptoms, as many patients do in spite of the significant pain. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself or even seek a second opinion if you think you are not being heard.

What can you expect upon getting diagnosed with CRPS? Every CRPS patient’s journey will be different, but treatment strategies used for CRPS often include physical therapy, nerve stimulation, and a variety of types of pharmaceutical medications. It’s important to work with a trusted medical specialist who can tailor your treatment plan to fit your symptoms, the severity of your CRPS, and the way your body responds to different forms of treatment.

Uncommon CRPS/RSD Side Effects

Pain, swelling, and sensitivity of the infected area are the most common side effects of a CRPS/RSD injury. However, medical professionals have discovered additional problems that arise in CRPS patients. Knowing these symptoms and how they affect your life can help us make your case and help you realize how RSD completely changes your life.

Decreased Ability to Move

There are many ways your movement RSD affects your movement. Nerve damage could make your limb more sensitive or trigger abnormal movement in the affected area. Stiffness is more likely to set in, making movement difficult or painful. Patients also report numbness in some cases, another nerve damage side effect.

Dental Problems

Skin, nails, and teeth are all affected by RSD. While nails and hair may grow differently because of RSD and any treatment related to it, dental problems are often caused as a result of nerve damage. Patients may need to have their teeth pulled instead of undergoing a root canal to prevent nerve sensitivity. They are also more prone to cavities and other gum diseases.

Abnormal Sweating

Patients may experience abnormal sweating patterns around the affected areas or in their whole bodies. They may sweat excessively or not sweat at all, depending on their body’s reaction to the climate. Sweat patterns can also change, meaning someone who is sweaty at one point can’t seem to sweat later on.

Memory Lapses

CRPS/RSD causes short-term memory problems and other mental disturbances like insomnia and emotional imbalances. Even if patients are physically able to do their jobs, they may not mentally be able to handle them. A lack of memory and emotional stability can be frustrating for patients, especially when they know they’re tied to a physical problem.

Difficulty Connecting With Loved Ones

While this isn’t a medical side effect, it’s an important factor to note in your case. CRPS affects your quality of life when it leaves you unable to enjoy activities you used to love. Many CRPS/RSD patients say their chronic pain makes it harder to connect with friends and keep up with loved ones. These isolating feelings can increase the risk of developing problems like depression or anxiety.

The symptoms and complications caused by CRPS extend well beyond pain and swelling. This condition affects the entire body and the entire life of patients who suffer from it.

Suffering through the pain of CRPS is hard enoughyou shouldn’t have to suffer alone. Our experienced, compassionate CRPS attorneys are here to help you hold the people responsible for your suffering accountable. Together, we can get your life back to the greatest extent possible.

Getting the CRPS Compensation You Deserve

Every CRPS claim is unique, so it’s impossible to know what your claim is worth until you speak with an attorney.

Like many other malpractice injury claims, CRPS cases seek to compensate you for more than just your medical bills. Of course, our CRPS lawyers start calculating your damages by looking at the medical tests and treatment you received (and any expenses you incurred as a result of a medical provider’s negligence). We also take other factors into consideration:

Pain and Suffering

CRPS/RSD is an incredibly painful condition. You deserve compensation for how this syndrome affects your daily life.

Medication Costs

Many patients rely on medication to treat their complex regional pain syndrome on an ongoing basis. These prescriptions can be expensive—and you shouldn’t be the one stuck paying for them.

Long-Term Treatment

Patients who suffer from CRPS undergo doctors’ appointments and physical therapy to work through weakness or pain. Any ongoing medical care you require may be part of your needlestick nerve injury claim.

Lost Wages

Developing CRPS means patients have to take time off of work for treatment. If the condition leaves them disabled, they may have to quit their jobs entirely. Our CRPS attorneys also seek compensation for lost wages and decreases in future earnings when they pursue a case involving direct nerve damage due to a careless needle stick.

Costs of Assistance

If your condition progresses to the point that you lose the strength or ability to move the affected limb, the disability that results may stop you from doing more than just your job. The activities of daily living —personal care and hygiene, domestic duties, taking care of your children—may be difficult or impossible for you to perform on your own in your condition. The compensation you receive from a CRPS lawsuit may help cover the costs of home care services and hiring others to perform these duties for you.

Once our team considers all of these factors, the CRPS attorney working on your case can develop a customized legal strategy to get you maximum compensation.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Settlements

How much money could you get for a CRPS lawsuit? Each case is unique, with some payouts in the tens of thousands of dollars range and others—like the example case listed below—climbing to the millions of dollars range.

Disclaimer: Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

$1.5 Million | New York CRPS

To fully understand the severity of CRPS and the rarity of this condition, consider the case of Diarassouba v. Urban in the state of New York. A 32-year-old math professor underwent a 10-hour surgery on his left knee. He woke up to excruciating pain and a swollen, deformed right leg.

Before surgery, the right leg was healthy. What happened?

During knee surgery, the legs typically rest in high support stirrups to give surgeons access. Unfortunately, this position is an unnatural one and can lead to problems without repositioning. The professor’s surgical team reportedly failed to do this, ignoring accepted medical practice. As a result, he developed severe CRPS, causing him to develop chronic pain in his leg.

At the time of the trialalmost eight years after the surgerythe patient still suffered from right leg weakness and foot numbness, reporting experiencing excruciating shots of pain 15-20 times per day. The court awarded him $1.5 million to cover the additional medical treatment needed to care for his leg and the pain and suffering he continued to experience daily.

Frequently Asked Questions About CRPS Lawsuits

When you have suffered CRPS as a result of medical negligence, you have a lot of questions. Fortunately, the attorneys at Console & Associates, P.C. have decades of experience helping injured patients in situations like yours. Below, we’ve answered the most common questions we hear from patients who were diagnosed with CRPS relating to damage caused by an intravenous needle inserted during a routine procedure. If you have other questions about your complex regional pain syndrome case, call us today to speak to a member of our legal team at no charge.

What Do I Need to Prove to Win My CRPS Medical Malpractice Case?

In medical malpractice cases, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff. This means that you will need to prove that the doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, or other healthcare providers strayed from the standard of care established by the larger medical community.

Generally, you may have the grounds to sue for medical malpractice if you can prove that the nerve trauma that caused you to develop CRPS as a result of an IV needle stick resulted from a medical error. Such errors may include incorrect needle placement or angle of insertion, improper injection of medicine, or improper volume of medicine. However, without that proof, you may not have a claim. CRPS isn’t always indicative of medical malpractice and can occur even when the healthcare provider has done everything right—so you need to do more than just document that you developed CRPS to prove that you deserve compensation. 

To have a successful medical malpractice lawsuit arising out of medical negligence in needlestick injuries, you need to prove that:

  • The healthcare professional in question owed you a duty of care (that is, that you were their patient), and
  • The nerve injury that caused your CRPS was the result of your providers not following the accepted medical practice, and
  • Your life is negatively affected by their actions, and the damages you are claiming can be documented.

These factors aren’t always easy to prove. You need to preserve evidence of the practitioner’s medical error. You must have a qualified medical expert review your records and provide expert opinions. Then you must argue your case against an army of lawyers hired to protect the laboratory or hospital’s profits. There’s no doubt about itfor a successful claim, you will need to hire experienced lawyers of your own.

Who Should I File a Malpractice Claim Against?

You don’t have to worry about choosing a defendant in your case. Our attorneys will walk you through the claim process, ask you questions, and review your medical records to determine who may be liable for causing your serious medical condition.

When CRPS/RSD arises out of surgical malpractice, the surgeon is often at fault because they were responsible for your care. However, there are times when other hospital staff were negligent, so they, too, can be defendants in your case. In the case where a needle stick injury occurs because the phlebotomist or nurse performing a blood draw or injection stuck the needle directly into a nerve, they will be defendants in your lawsuit. Your lawsuit may also name a hospital, laboratory, or another facility as a defendant in your case.

Your CRPS medical malpractice claim is against any party that failed to uphold the duty of care owed to you. Our attorneys will identify all possible defendants against whom you may have a viable case.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on My CRPS Medical Malpractice Claim?

A statute of limitations establishes the amount of time you have to file a claim or lawsuit. In the state of Pennsylvania, patients generally have two years to file a medical malpractice claim. Under Pennsylvania’s “discovery rule,” you have two years after you are aware (or should be aware) that you are the victim of malpractice to file a lawsuit. Due to these technical legal considerations, potential claimants often have questions about when the statute of limitations begins as it pertains to their claim.

This question is exactly why you should contact an experienced CRPS lawsuit attorney as soon as possible. Reviewing the unique facts of your claim allows us to determine how long you have to file a lawsuit. We can also determine whether your situation provides the grounds for a claim that is likely to be successful. When you speak with a member of our firm, we’ll let you know what your options are and explain what to expect from the legal process—including how you can move forward with your claim on a no-win, no-fee basis. 

Remember, by the time that two-year deadline expires, you must have filed a lawsuit, not just hired an attorney. Gathering evidence takes time, so the sooner you allow us to start building your case, the better.

How Much Does Hiring a CRPS Lawyer Cost?

There are no upfront fees for hiring Console & Associates to represent your CRPS medical malpractice case.

We stand by our No Fee Promise. The premise is simple: You pay nothing for your claim until we get you a settlement. You never have to pay a penny to speak with your attorney. We will even advance all costs associated with your claim. Our success is your success, which is why we always fight to get you every dollar you deserve. If we can’t get you a settlement, you don’t owe us anything. Period.

We believe that you should never be denied justice because of the financial burden of undertaking the legal process. Our No Fee Promise guarantees that no claimant with a viable case has to miss out on their opportunity to get what they deserve because they can’t afford skilled legal representation.

These questions are just a handful of concerns people have. If you have additional questions, just call our offices and ask. We’re here to listen to you.

Speak With a CRPS Attorney at No Charge

Are you still unsure about pursuing a complex regional pain syndrome malpractice case? Taking advantage of a free consultation with a member of our legal team can help you make up your mind. During the consultation, we can:

  • Explain the legal process and our firm’s unique approach to cases like yours
  • Gather the details of your situation to thoroughly evaluate your case
  • Listen to your concerns and address any questions you may have.

We are here for you and will take whatever time you need to make sure you feel comfortable.

Speaking to a Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney is the first step towards getting justice for CRPS resulting from an IV needlestick, surgical mistakes, or instances of medical negligence. The legal process starts with a simple phone call or contact form to our office. The call is free, and you’ll never pay a penny for the claim until we get you your settlement.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by speaking with our legal professionals during a free, confidential consultation. If you choose to move forward with your case, we will walk you through the claims process. We will handle every aspect of the claim for you and fight for the full amount of compensation you deserve.

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