Doctor caused radial nerve damage during acupuncture...

by Mae
(Westerville, Ohio)

My pain management doctor had let go of their acupuncturist who used to do my acupuncture and injections. About a month and a half ago when I went in for my appointment, my doctor told me my past acupuncturist was no longer with the practice and she would be doing my injections and acupuncture.

While there she hit my radial nerve with a needle while doing an injection. After leaving I noticed that my whole hand and forearm were numb. I called the practice back to tell them of the situation and they told me to go to the emergency room right away.

I followed their instructions and the doctors at the emergency room told me that my doctor hit my radial nerve badly, and I will be without feeling in a few of my fingers and forearm for a few days to a few weeks. They put me on an intense steroid treatment and sent me home. They said that my doctor should have to pay for this as well. However, my doctor does not agree.

Upon starting acupuncture I never had to sign a waiver, the only waiver I had signed was for being prescribed medications, maintaining a drug free record, and agreeing to random drug screenings.

I am now left with a $250 copay and a $369 hospital bill, which I do not feel that I should have to cover since my doctor was at fault. I would appreciate if someone could tell me if I am at fault or if she is at fault so that I can try to have her pay to balance of my hospital bills. Can I legally force my doctor to pay my costs since she caused them? What can I do here? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Doctor caused radial nerve damage during acupuncture...":

Mae (Westerville, Ohio):

The doctor who struck your radial nerve is responsible for your injury and subsequent medical costs. Whether you signed a release or not is irrelevant. Here is where the “but for” rule applies... But for your doctor’s mistake, you wouldn’t have had to pay for emergency medical costs, nor would you have had to endure unnecessary pain and suffering.

Submit the copay bill along with the hospital bill to your doctor. You can do so in person, or by mail. Explain to the doctor her actions caused you to sustain unnecessary pain and suffering, and out of pocket costs. Tell the doctor you expect her to send a check for the full amount of those costs within the next seven (7) days. If you send your letter by mail, make it certified, return receipt requested.

If the doctor refuses to pay you have two three options:

First: You can forget about the matter and move on.

Second: You can file a complaint with the Ohio State Medical Board (if you rely on this option, make sure you tell the doctor you are considering taking such action if she doesn’t cooperate).

Third: You can file a small claims lawsuit. In the lawsuit, you can ask to be compensated for your co-pay and hospital bill, out of pocket expenses for medications, etc., lost wages (if you had to miss work), and pain and suffering. In the State of Ohio, the maximum amount you can sue for in small claims court is $3,000.00.

Let the doctor know your intention is to settle the matter amicably, and without the need for legal action. If she has some modicum of business sense she will cooperate.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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