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Man's death illustrates dangers of routine pain injections

Many Americans struggle with chronic pain. Typically associated with an accident and resulting injury, chronic pain can drain an individual both physically and financially as many sufferers turn to alternative and traditional treatments to ease their pain. The family of one 40-year-old man knows all too well the devastating outcomes that can result from common pain treatments.

Pain medication injections are routinely used by doctors to help lessen or alleviate chronic pain. While these injections are widely considered routine and safe, the outcome of a recent medical malpractice case highlights the hidden dangers associated with these injections.

In May of 2008, a man with chronic back pain began receiving pain injections. The man sought relief at a pain management clinic and received two medication injections which were administered by the same doctor roughly eight months apart.

The second injection proved unsuccessful in treating the man’s pain so he returned for another injection at which time a different doctor administered the medication injection. However, this injection was also unsuccessful.

Shortly thereafter, the man noticed a painful and swollen lump had developed at the injection site. Days later, when he returned for another injection, he was told not to worry about the lump. Roughly one week later, the man was diagnosed as having meningitis which was caused by a serious untreated infection at the pain medication injection site. He was told by doctors that he would either die or be paralyzed.

Miraculously, the man lived. However the untreated infection left him seriously injured and unable to control his bladder or bowels. Still suffering with chronic pain and now additional health complications, tragically the man took his own life.

Prior to the man's suicide, he filed a medical malpractice lawsuit which was taken over by his parents after his death. The 40-year-old's parents were recently awarded a $2.88 million judgment.

This case illustrates the devastating physical and psychological injuries that may result when doctors fail to diagnose and treat infections. The man's parents are hopeful their son's case and death can help raise awareness of the dangers associated with pain injections and encourage doctors to be more vigilant when monitoring and administering pain injections.

Source: Springfield News-Leader, "Jury awards nearly $3 million in malpractice case," April 7, 2014

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