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Can I Sue for Nerve Damage Caused During Surgery?

Undergoing surgery always comes with the risk of complications. If you find out that you suffered nerve damage during an operation or procedure, however, there is a chance that it was caused by medical malpractice. Nerve damage is a type of surgical error that is often preventable with an appropriate amount of care by the surgeon and surgical assistants. If a case of nerve damage constitutes medical malpractice, you have the right to file a lawsuit in Pennsylvania.

What Is Nerve Damage? Is it Permanent?

The nerves are fibers in the body that contain neurons, or nerve cells. Neurons send and receive signals from the brain to transmit information from one part of the body to the other. If a nerve sustains even minor damage, it can interrupt its complex communication system. This can affect the pathways used to conduct electrical impulses throughout the body. Nerve damage can result in symptoms such as:

  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet or other parts of the body
  • Sharp pain anywhere in the body (acute pain)
  • Pain that doesn’t go away (chronic pain)
  • A feeling of compression, like you’re wearing something tight
  • Muscle weakness or the inability to hold objects
  • A loss of balance or coordination

Treating nerve damage requires identifying its source. If a surgical error caused the nerve damage, the nerve has likely been sliced or severed. This can mean that the nerve damage is permanent. However, there may be various treatments available to repair the nerve or allow you to manage your symptoms. Our Pittsburgh surgery malpractice attorneys understand that every patient is unique and can provide personalized legal assistance for every case.

Can Nerve Damage Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

Depending on the circumstances, nerve damage can be considered medical malpractice. Under Pennsylvania law, the definition of medical malpractice is the failure of a health care professional to use or exercise adequate care when treating a patient, resulting in patient injury, harm or death. All health care practitioners have a duty or standard of care – both legally and ethically. If a surgeon violates the medical industry’s standards of care and this results in nerve damage, the surgeon can be sued by the patient for medical malpractice.

Nerve damage may count as medical malpractice if a reasonable and prudent surgeon would have done something differently in similar circumstances to yield a different result. If there is proof that the surgeon carelessly nicked your nerve or pressed against an exposed nerve with a surgical tool, for example, this could be evidence of medical malpractice. There are established ways to prevent nerve damage during operations that all surgeons and health care practitioners must obey. If medical negligence is to blame, the practitioner can be held accountable.

Anesthesia errors are also a common cause of preventable nerve damage. If an anesthesiologist makes an error when administering anesthesia to a patient, it can result in nerve damage with varying effects, from minor irritation to major impairment of bodily functions. When administering anesthesia with a needle, the professional must be careful not to touch any of the surrounding nerves.

What Types of Compensation Are Available?

If you or your Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer can prove that nerve damage that was caused during surgery constitutes medical malpractice, you can bring a lawsuit against the individual health care provider and/or the medical institution as a whole in pursuit of financial compensation for your related losses. These losses may include:

  • Revision surgeries
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
  • Lost wages and ability to earn
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress 
  • Mental anguish
  • Legal expenses

A skilled Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can help you create a comprehensive list of your losses to submit in your medical malpractice demand letter. Then, your lawyer can help you fight for fair and full financial compensation for nerve damage caused by a surgical error. Contact the Pittsburgh medical malpractice attorneys at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C., today for more information about your potential case.

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