Nerve Damage From Surgery: When to Consider a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on June 12, 2024 and updated on June 24, 2024.

blue neurons firingSurgery puts you at risk for various injuries, some of which could have long-term or permanent consequences. If the surgeon severs a nerve, it could cause complete or partial paralysis, muscle atrophy and many other severe issues.

Regrettably, nerve damage during surgery could be a result of medical malpractice. Surgeons may have been careless during the procedure or failed to properly manage post-operative complications.

Below, the Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl discuss nerve damage, including how it happens during surgery and when medical malpractice may be involved.

Call us to discuss a potential medical malpractice lawsuit. The initial legal consultation is free and there are no fees unless we win your case.

Have legal questions? Call The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl: 410-297-0271.

Nerve Damage Defined

Nerve damage, or neuropathy, is a condition in which the nerves that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body suffer damage. This damage disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with muscles, skin, joints and other areas.

The location of the injury and the types of nerves damaged determine the symptoms victims may experience. Those affected could deal with everything from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain. Some victims have problems that affect their ability to move, feel, and perform everyday tasks. This can negatively affect quality of life.

Common Signs of Nerve Damage

If you experience any of the following symptoms, your nerves may have been damaged during your operation. You need immediate medical treatment to diagnose your specific injury and hopefully to stop further damage or worsening symptoms.

  • Numbness
  • Tingling in your legs or arms
  • Burning pain
  • Inability to life your toes or your foot
  • Weakness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Heightened sensitivity
  • Partial paralysis
  • Total paralysis below the site of the injury, such as from a spinal cord injury
  • Sharp pain
  • Shooting pain
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of function
  • Difficulty with coordination
  • Muscle twitching
  • Cramping
  • Decreased reflexes
  • Difficulty gripping objects

Types of Nerve Damage From Surgery

These are three of the main types of nerve damage you could suffer during a surgical procedure. While some are less severe than others, you should seek medical care right away, as an untreated injury could cause significant pain and possibly lead to more severe symptoms.

1. Neurapraxia

Neurapraxia is the least severe form of nerve injury. Victims experience temporary loss of nerve function, often because of a nerve getting stretched or compressed. Symptoms may include numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. Neurapraxia often heals within a few weeks or months.

2. Axonotmesis

Axonotmesis is a more severe form of nerve damage that involves injury to the axon, while the nerve sheath remains undamaged. This can lead to a loss of motor and sensory function in the affected area. Symptoms of axonotmesis could include paralysis, numbness and tingling. It may take months or years for victims to recover, and the residual damage may be permanent.

3. Neurotmesis

Neurotmesis is the most severe nerve injury, where the nerve is completely severed. Victims suffer a total loss of motor and sensory function in the affected area. Symptoms that may indicate neurotmesis can include paralysis, numbness or tingling. Doctors often need to do surgery to treat neurotmesis, and victims usually do not fully recover from the injury.

Potential Causes of Nerve Damage

There are different ways you could suffer nerve damage during a surgical procedure.  a primary cause of nerve damage:

  • Mistakes made during surgery, such as cutting/severing, compressing or overstretching a nerve
  • Surgical site infections
  • Inflammation caused by improper use of surgical tools
  • Excessive force on a nerve during the procedure
  • Poor positioning of the patient before surgery starts
  • Post-operative complications, such as bleeding or swelling
  • Failure to properly monitor the patient during surgery
  • Using defective or malfunctioning surgical instruments

While this blog is focused on nerve damage during surgery, it is important to note nerve damage can also result from failure to diagnose or treat medical conditions like diabetes, defective hip implants and birth injuries.

Under What Circumstances Can Nerve Damage Victims File Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

While surgical errors happen all the time, victims cannot seek compensation unless they prove medical malpractice. Your lawyer must provide evidence that the nerve damage was a direct result of the surgical procedure and not something else. In other words, there must be a causal link between nerve damage and surgery.

More importantly, your lawyer must show that one or more medical professionals involved in your procedure deviated from the accepted standard of care. In other words, the medical professional in question failed to perform as other similarly trained professionals would have.

As you can imagine, determining that the standard of care was violated is a complex task, requiring detailed knowledge of medical treatment and accepted standards. That is why Maryland requires claimants to bring in an expert witness to explain how medical professionals breached the standard of care for the situation.

Our firm has obtained millions on behalf of medical malpractice victims. We have the resources to construct a detailed case and we know what experts to bring in to help use prove what happened.

Unsure if You Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Case? Contact Us

There is no doubt about it, medical malpractice cases are complicated and difficult to prove. That is why one of your most important decisions after negligent medical treatment is your choice of a lawyer.

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl have advocated for malpractice victims for many years and we have the results to show for it.

Free consultation and no upfront costs. Call us today to learn more: 410-297-0271.