Woman gets blood drawn.

Can a blood draw cause nerve damage?

Some people close their eyes and hold their breath. Others distract themselves by counting floor tiles. A brave few stare straight at the needle without wincing. What are we talking about here? Getting blood drawn. It’s a common and necessary medical procedure, and one that nearly everyone must endure at some point or another. 

For most, getting blood drawn is quick and painless. George Washington died in large part thanks to a blood draw, but phlebotomy has come a long way since then. Wrongful death due to a blood draw is incredibly rare, and this routine procedure rarely causes serious injuries. But it’s possible for a technician to cause serious nerve damage after blood draw if he or she performs the task incorrectly. 

When that happens, can you file a nerve damage from blood draw lawsuit? Read on for the answer. 

Vials of blood from blood work draw.

How Nerve Damage After Blood Draw Can Occur

A person trained to draw blood is called a phlebotomist. Depending on the state, one can obtain a phlebotomy certificate in as little as 6 months to a year. Such a straightforward procedure may not take years to learn, but it’s important for a phlebotomist to be well-trained and follow the standard of care in order to avoid mistakes. 

Here are some general “standard of care” guidelines that phlebotomists use:

  • The technician should use the median cubital vein when possible. This is because it’s not too close to arteries and nerves in the arm. 
  • After the median cubital vein, a phlebotomist should use the lateral cephalic vein, then the basilic vein. 
  • The phlebotomist must insert the needle cleanly. She shouldn’t move the needle around to probe for a vein. 
  • After two failed attempts, another phlebotomist or supervisor should be called for help. 
  • If the patient experiences pain, the technician should take the needle out right away. 
  • The needle should enter the vein without going through it. 
  • The phlebotomist should not insert the needle at an angle of more than 30 degrees. 
  • Workers must wear sterile gloves and adhere to other hygiene best practices. 
  • A tourniquet must not be left on too long. (No more than 1 minute.)

What’s The Root Issue?

If a phlebotomist is careless or isn’t well-trained, he or she might violate the standard of care. This can lead to temporary or permanent nerve damage in a patient’s arm. 

But how exactly can this happen? Delicate nerves are located near the veins in your arms. So a phlebotomist must “aim” with care. When a nerve is poked, patients often feel a “bolt of electricity” or intense, shooting pain. Another sign that a nerve has been damaged is constant tingling, burning, and muscle weakness. 

Sometimes, nerve damage heals on its own. Other times, the damage is permanent and requires surgery to fix. In both cases, it’s possible to file a nerve damage from blood draw lawsuit and win compensation. However, you’re more likely to win your case if the damage is severe and permanent. And as is the case with all malpractice lawsuits, don’t wait too long due to the statute of limitations. 

Filing A Nerve Damage From Blood Draw Lawsuit

What does it take to win a nerve damage lawsuit against your practitioner? You’ll need to prove that the technician who treated you was negligent. If you’re able to show that the phlebotomist didn’t follow the standard of care, and that you were harmed as a result, you might receive compensation for your injuries. 

Cases related to nerve damage after blood draw, like many medical malpractice cases, often end up in a draw (pun intended!). Hospitals, medical centers, and labs will fight tooth and nail to bury these cases and not admit guilt. However, with the help of a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer, you can hold negligent phlebotomists accountable.  (Check out our tips for meeting with a malpractice lawyer, here.

So, are nerve damage after blood draw cases ever successful? When they prove clear negligence causing susbtantial harm, yes!

Here are some examples:

  • The phlebotomist inserts the needle directly into a nerve or moves the needle around to “probe” for a vein. When the patient complains of intense pain, the phlebotomist does not remove the needle and continues to draw blood. This results in permanent nerve injury that requires surgery. 
  • They leave a tourniquet on too long, causing permanent nerve damage. 
  • The needle enters at an angle more than 30 degrees, injuring a nerve. The phlebotomist continues to draw blood even when the patient complains of pain. The injury leads to complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Too many attempts to draw blood result in a hematoma (blood trapped under the skin’s surface). This is accompanied by pain and numbness, which turns into permanent nerve damage. Dysesthesia (burning sensation) and paresthesia (a “pins and needles” sensation) may also occur. 

Woman experiences nerve pain from blood draw.

Next Steps For Filing A Lawsuit

Do you identify with one of the example cases above? Have you or a loved one suffered nerve damage because of a botched blood draw?

Call the lawyers at Hampton & King today at (713-489-0993) or contact us here for a free case review. 

Nerve Damage After Blood Draw FAQ’s – Quick Answers Section

What happens if the phlebotomist hits a nerve while drawing blood?

Damage to the nerve happens, unfortunately. When inserting the needle, if the nurse or other person drawing blood is not careful, they may accidentally puncture a nerve. If they extract blood from the bottom of your wrist, the ulnar nerve may be damaged. Nerve injury can result in excruciating pain, tingling, and muscle weakness.

How can I tell if a blood draw caused nerve damage?

Sharp shooting pain up or down the arm is one symptom. A sensation of pain that adjusts in intensity based on needle position is another. That pins and needles sensation or an electric shock sort of feeling travelling down the arm from the venipuncture site is another symptom. Pain or tingling unpleasantness in the hand or fingertips are also symptoms of nerve damage from a blood draw.

What are symptoms of nerve damage, whether from blood draw or in general?

The following are symptoms of nerve damage in general:

  • In the hands and feet, numbness or tingling.
  • Feeling as if you’re wearing a sock or glove that’s too tight.
  • Muscle aches and pains, especially in the arms and legs.
  • Dropping stuff you’re holding on a regular basis.
  • Sharp aches and pains in the hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  • A buzzing sensation similar to a little electric shock.

How long does it take for nerve damage from a blood draw to heal?

Studies show that most venipuncture-related nerve injuries resolve within 1 to 2 months, and that some take up to 6 months. In only rare cases does it take much longer than that. On the other hand, if they bruise or damage the nerve but don’t cut or puncture it, it should generally heal in 6 to 12 weeks. After a 4 week period of rest following your injury, experts say a cut nerve grows at a rate of 1 mm every day.

Is nerve damage from a blood draw a serious injury?

It certainly can be! Insurance companies defend personal injury claims involving nerve damage fiercely because nerve damage can result in significant and lasting injuries.

Is nerve damage from a blood draw medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice can cause a wide range of injuries, including nerve damage. It’s not at all uncommon to see lawsuits filed because of nerve injury caused by a negligent phlebotomist. See more below.

Can you receive compensation for nerve damage from a blood draw?

In some cases, the blood draw procedure can cause serious medical complications that warrant compensation. In fact, one patient was awarded $2.5 million after a nurse hit a nerve while drawing blood for a pre-operation procedure.

Can you sue an anesthesiologist for nerve damage?

It depends. In most cases involving nerve damage, the hospital, medical facility, surgeon, anesthesiologist, phlebotomist and/or any medical professionals who negligently engaged in your treatment may be held liable.

Are doctors liable for nerve damage caused by a blood draw?

If a doctor’s error or carelessness causes nerve injury, you may be eligible for compensation. If you believe the doctor, phlebotomist, nurse or hospital is to blame, contact a malpractice lawyer to learn whether or not you have a case.

Can I file a claim for nerve damage after a botched blood draw or surgery?

Nerve damage can be painful and even permanent. It can also have an impact on your mental health and contribute to psychological problems including stress, anxiety, and despair. If you have any of these symptoms after surgery or a botched blood draw, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to file a claim for nerve injury compensation.

Can you prove nerve damage caused by blood draw?

First and foremost – the importance of documenting nerve injury in your case cannot be overstated. With good documentation, you can demonstrate objectively that nerve damage happened because of negligence. It’s also possible to detect nerve dysfunction with diagnostic nerve conduction tests.