Nerve damage from blood draw?
Approximately 1 month ago I sustained an injury during a routine blood draw. The technician hit the radial nerve in my left arm. Immediately, it felt like a bolt of electricity ran down my arm to my hand. Then it felt like it was on fire just above my wrist. I yelled and the technician removed the needle.
I asked what happened as I rubbed my arm. The technician casually replied that she had "hit the nerve." She instructed me to just open and close my hand a few times and it should be fine. She then said that this happens because the veins are so close to the nerves.
I'm 63 and have had many, many blood draws in my life, and this has never happened to me before, nor to anyone I know. I went to my doctor and was prescribed pain medication (2 weeks after the incident) to take at night, as I would not be able to function if I took it during the day.
This means that I am in a great deal of pain - under my arm, above my wrist, a portion of my left hand, the thumb and index and middle finger. It's like a toothache with random feelings of electrical jolts and/or skin being on fire. My doctor could not tell me how long this could go on but estimated between 4-6 months.
Medical costs have been less than $200. Any idea what would be reasonable to ask for my pain and suffering? Obviously just multiplying the medical costs would not be adequate in this situation. Who is liable? Any perspective you can give would be helpful. Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Nerve damage from blood draw?":
Marilynn (Paris, MI):
While your injury is unfortunate, there doesn't seem to be any permanent damage. Moreover, your doctor didn't prescribe any medical procedures which might be necessary to medically remedy the problem.
The company which employed the technician is the liable party. While they may empathize with your pain, it is unlikely they will admit an injury was caused by their technician, or agree to pay you any compensation for the injury. To do so would be an implied admission of wrongdoing.
This is not to say you shouldn't make an effort to be compensated for your medical bills and pain and suffering. Just don't be surprised when the company refuses to pay. It is unlikely you will find a personal injury attorney to accept your case. There just isn't enough evidence supporting your claim, and more importantly, enough money in the case to make it worth an attorney's time.
See if the company will pay you. If they refuse, you can sue them in small claims court. In the State of Michigan the small claims courts’ jurisdictional limits (the maximum amount you can sue for) is $5,000. You don't need an attorney to file your case, the procedures are rather informal.
If you do decide to sue in small claims court, make sure you ask the court clerk to assist you in issuing a subpoena "duces tecum" for the company records related to the incident wherein your blood was drawn. A subpoena duces tecum is a request for documents.
Hopefully the documentation will show the technician’s name, and any notations she may have made related to the incident, including the pain you suffered when the technician stuck the needle in an area which affected the nerve ending.
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,
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