What Are the Dangers of an Epidural Steroid Injection?

by | Jan 4, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

epidural word in a dictionary

Spinal injections of epidural steroids can cause severe, potentially deadly side effects. These side effects can include blindness, paralysis, and strokes. These types of injections are not approved by the FDA, yet many physicians have used them to treat patients in spite of the warnings. In doing so, these physicians have negligently placed their patients at risk of serious injury or premature death.

Epidural Steroid Injections

Physicians have used steroids as part of anti-inflammatory treatments. The purpose of these injections is to treat back, arm, and leg pain. These treatments have also been used to treat swelling and inflammation within these regions. Common types of steroids used in epidural injections include methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, and dexamethasone. These are unapproved applications of these steroids and individuals who received epidural injections of steroids that resulted in injury can pursue personal injury claims with the assistance of a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer for the injuries they suffered or the wrongful death of a loved one who died following these treatments.

Complications of Epidurals

Can an epidural kill you? As early as 2014, the FDA issued warnings about the use of these steroids in epidural injections. The warning indicated that adverse events were reported across the country. Most of these were occurring within minutes of the injection, however, some were not occurring until up to 48 hours later. Adverse events that were reported included spinal cord infarction, as well as paraplegia and quadriplegia. It also stated that patients had reported cortical blindness, seizures, and serious nerve injuries.

The warning also included that the efficacy and safety of such injections were not established. The warning urged those who had been treated to closely monitor their health for adverse events and for physicians to discontinue the practice of such epidural injections.

Tainted Injections Amplify the Risk

One of the most common drugs used in epidural steroid injections is methylprednisolone. Drugs produced by the New England Compounding Center were found to be tainted with bacterial and fungal strains. These drugs were distributed to outpatient surgery centers and hospitals in 20 states.

In all, more than 800 patients developed infections following treatments involving methylprednisolone. These infections caused serious injuries, including brain swelling and swelling of the spinal cord. More than 64 individuals died following treatment with the tainted steroids. While investigating these deaths, the FDA determined that the company was producing the drugs without agency approval.

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