Medication Errors: Are There Risks in Cortisone Shot Treatments?

When you are suffering from back or leg pain – whether from an accident injury or a medical condition – you depend on your physician and other medical staff to provide not only effective treatment but safe treatment. But all too often, the medication patients are given cause terrible side effects that can cause permanent damage – sometimes even worse than the original condition the patient was being treated for.

One of the most common treatments for back and leg pain – medically referred to as spinal stenosis – is steroid spinal injections. However, evidence has shown that this form of treatment may actually have little benefit to those patients receiving the medication.

Steroid Injection Effectiveness

Millions of dollars are spent every year on the hundreds of thousands of patients who are treated with steroids. The cost of an injection can be anywhere from $500 to $2,000 apiece.

One study, conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, was the biggest randomized research on steroid injections that has been done to date. Researchers examined 400 patients from 16 different medical facilities. The steroid that was injected in all the patients in the study was glucocorticoid, one of the most common medications used in this type of treatment.

Some of the patients were given injections of glucocorticoid and lidocaine, which is a local anesthetic. Other patients were given injections of just lidocaine. The patients were evaluated three weeks after the injections, and then again at six weeks.

Within three weeks of the injection, the group of patients that had received the steroid with the anesthetic reported better results than the anesthetic-only group. However, six weeks later, that result had changed. Researchers concluded, “In the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis, epidural injection of glucocorticoids plus lidocaine offered minimal or no short-term benefit as compared with epidural injection of lidocaine alone.”

There is concern about the use of steroid injections that may not offer significant relief for patients, but may be exposing those patients to serious side effects. The most common side effects associated with their use are headaches, sleeplessness, and an increased risk of infection. However, three years ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that steroids may also cause strokes, paralysis, blindness, or even death. The FDA has never approved steroid injections for the treatment of back pain and reminded patients of that in their warning, stating,

 “ . . .however, the effectiveness and safety of the drugs for this use have not been established, and FDA has not approved corticosteroids for such use.”

Are You a Victim of Medication Error?

Victims of medication errors often have their lives severely impacted. The injuries they sustain often leave them with much pain and suffering. Victims are left with high medical expenses and financial struggles from being unable to work.

If you were given medication or treatment and suffered adverse side effects, you may be entitled to financial damages, as well as damages for other pain and loss. Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Virginia malpractice attorney to discuss what legal options you may have.