Epidural anesthesia is a common method used for pain relief during childbirth and certain surgical procedures. However, when healthcare professionals improperly administer epidurals, it can lead to potential side effects and complications.
Learn more about the issues associated with improperly administering an epidural.
Nerve damage and neurological complications
Administering an epidural improperly can result in damage to nerves and neurological complications. When healthcare workers incorrectly insert or place the epidural needle at the wrong level of the spine, it can damage the surrounding nerves. This damage may cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness or loss of sensation in the lower body. In severe cases, long-term or permanent nerve damage can occur, impacting the patient’s mobility and overall quality of life.
Spinal headache and dural puncture
When an epidural is not done properly, it can also lead to spinal headaches and dural punctures. If the needle punctures the dura, the protective membrane surrounding the spinal cord, it can result in the leakage of cerebrospinal fluid. This leakage can cause severe headaches that worsen when the patient is upright or sitting. Neck pain, nausea and sensitivity to light may accompany the headache.
In some cases, additional procedures may be necessary to address the puncture and alleviate the symptoms.
Infection and allergic reactions
If medical professionals do not follow proper sterilization techniques or if the injection site becomes contaminated, bacteria may enter the spinal area, leading to an infection. Symptoms of an infection may include fever, swelling, redness and increased pain at the site of the injection.
Additionally, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the medication used in the epidural. These reactions can range from mild skin irritations to more severe allergic responses, including difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.
By prioritizing patient safety and adhering to proper procedures, healthcare providers can reduce the risk of problems associated with epidural administration, ensuring optimal outcomes for patients.