Epidural injections are used to manage pain and allow patients to heal. They are primarily used during childbirth and are very effective when administered properly. However, since they must be administered in close proximity to the spinal cord, a mistake made by an anesthesiologist can be very dangerous.
During labor, the epidural is usually administered during the active phase. The injection is inserted into the lower back in the space between L3 and L4 in the spine. Anesthesiologists use a process known as “The Four P’s” when administering epidurals.
- Preparation – the doctor needs to use the correct needle and the correct type and dose of the medicine.
- Position – the patient must be placed in the proper position. In the case of a woman in labor, most often on her side.
- Projection – the doctor must place the needle in the proper place at the expected insertion point.
- Puncture – the spinal column must be penetrated without entering the spinal sac.
An epidural injury can occur because:
- Too many epidural injections were given during a prescribed period of time.
- The epidural injection was injected into the wrong area.
- The epidural was injected directly into the spinal cord.
- An epidural was administered when it was not the best option.
If the epidural is not properly administered, then the mother could suffer from the following types of injuries:
- Cardiac arrest
- Difficulty breathing
- Nerve damage
- Wrongful death
Additionally, the baby could be injured as a result of errors in administering an epidural, including:
- Brain injury
- Wrongful death
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