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Nerve damage after a blood test
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Nerve damage after a blood test

6 weeks ago I had blood taken and when the phlebotomist put the needle into my arm I screamed immediately and asked her to remove it, she didn't do this and moved the needle around looking for the vein.

I had incredible pain, electric shock feelings running down my arm, tingling in my fingers and twitching of muscles so I saw a doctor at my local hospital and he has diagnosed me with median nerve damage and prescribed me carbamazepine after unsuccessfully trying amitriptyline.

I complained to the hospital where I had the sample taken and they have written back to me and basically said that its not a complication of blood sampling to damage an nerve and in 28 years of experience they had never seen or heard of it.

Are they just covering their backs? Has anyone else ever heard of it? The pain and weakness in my arm and hand is really bad and I can't write or drive. I am so angry they haven't even apologised and are basically saying its the phlebotomists word against mine!
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16 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Have you had an EMG?  The only way to truly diagnose nerve damage is by EMG.  I have heard people mention this problem but I have personally never seen it really happen in 23 years of starting IV's on people.
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Avatar_n_tn
Patsy 10; Thank you for your response. I am having an EMG and nerve conduction studies done in 2 weeks time. The doctors have said that they expect them to come back negative as the threshold is quite high and the nerve isn't severed. I have had a positive tinel's test and Phalen Test.
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Avatar_m_tn
shelly76,  what has happened with you so far?  I had something similar happen about a month ago but the nurse did it in my wrist.  She stuck the needle in my wrist i screamed and came off the bed in pain.  I had 3 family members in the room that all seen it and she did the same just kept the needle in my wrist digging it around.  I talked to the risk manager after 3 weeks of going to there doctors and doing tons of research and finally told her i was tired of playing dumb and i know that Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice which can be used in court SAY to stay away form points of flexation.  She told me to send in a Demand letter so i am that far what have you done so far. I still have bad pains and pens and needle feeling!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi I have been through the same thing at my local Gps. The nurse tryed for 20 minutes to get blood from me and could not find a vein but she went ahead anyway. I have just been to see a consultant at my local hospital and I have to have a course of Shock treatments if this does not work I have to have surgery.  I have contacted a local solicitor and I have been told that I have a case . As the hospital notes from my Gp says that it eas the blood test that caused this problem.  Like yourself I am in constant pain and I am on lots of pain relief and tablets for nerve damage.  This is Medical Negligence. .I was being testedfor Thyroid and Diabetes and now I am petrified to go for a jab.
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Avatar_f_tn
wow, gald i was reading your post, i had a nurse take blood from me dec 2008, i never had prob with that vien, this time blood started squirting evrywhere and pain shot dow my arem an han it hurt so bad it was unreal, i couldnt use my hand for a long time, i have mentioned it to several different doctors, and all of them ignored the fact that i have a lump still aabout the size of a dime. I recently have been having probs with  pain and twitching and numbness,  pain in groin,numbness and neddles feeeling in my right foot toes and leg, at first we thought it was something my chiro could take care of . But after mri i showed some degeneration but minimal. Now im wondering if it was from the nurse damaging my vien...any thoughs?
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Avatar_n_tn
I went to Lab corp an the phlebotomist who with draw my blood for the test jab my vein so hard it felt like fire.  I now have sensation like electrical shocks when I move the arm that was jabbed up and down example washing off during a shower. Are, any move that requires my arm to bend.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had the same thing happen last week.  After a terrible blood test, lots of pain when she put the needle in (she was training) and constant pain shoots down my arm to my left inside arm thrumb side.  I can almost not use my left arm, I have an email into my Dr. and I am waiting for a reply.
I am so glad to know that this is not just me,  I have so many blood tests and will never let a trainee do one again.  I was told it would go away and a week later, It appears to be worse.  Has your pain gone away?  Would you recommend getting the tests you mentioned?  Thanks
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Avatar_f_tn
I am currently having the same issue! Plus my doctor is also treating me for phlebitis! It is all in my right arm and hand. I'm right handed so this is inhibiting my ability to type and write. I go back to the doctor tomorrow and we'll see what else there is to do.
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Avatar_m_tn
   My significant other experienced the "digging around" problem and, then, a second try, in spite of her instructions not to do so.  Very severe pain each time.  It's permanent, along with inability to close the rt. hand completely.
   We're in Los Angeles and trying to find a good neurologist.  Where are you located?;
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Avatar_f_tn
I just recently experienced the same careless error by a lab tech...i screamed when she punctured my nerve as if my arm was being electricuted.
I myself am a Regostered Massage Therapist of the medical kind in Canada. I'm also a teacher in health sciences and anatomy at college level to other Therapists,  I am not impressed at the non regulation of people who perform these procedures without liability insurance?  Fortunately for me, I also teach Ethics and Law in the medical profession.  Since then, the tingling sensation and numbness has progessively gotten worse affecting my ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) brushing my hair, holding a pen and most importantly applying massage therapy treatments.  I use my hands and finger very specifically to address soft tissue manipulation.  Nerves can sometimes regenerate and heal in time, but as a self employed independent practitioner, I cannot afford to loose work in the meantime.   I will explore with my doctor who is also a well respected surgeon in our community.  At rhe end of the day, I will have to seek legal action.
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1932338_tn?1349223998
Did the blood drawing person actually do something wrong ?  If so, can you share the specifics with us so that we can try to prevent this from happening again in the future ?

I just had this experience last week.  I witnessed the Doctor's assistant follow poor, unsanitary procedures:

1) She laid out butterfly needle as well as all 3 vials, etc.on a countertop with no sanitized paper underneath.

2) She wiped alcohol swab 2 times vertically on inside of elbow (suppose to do concentric circles)...then proceeded to palpate area again after ripping off the finger of her glove.  NEVER RE-APPLIED ALCOHOL AFTER RAW FINGER RUBBED NEEDLE PUNCTURE SPOT !  It happened so fast I couldn't stop her.

3) Kept tourniquet on for all 3 vials, and re entered the 1st vial into the tube after the 3rd vial to "add more blood because the flow started out so slow the 1st time".  SEEMED LIKE WAY TOO LONG FOR THE TOURNIQUET...as it is not suppose to be on more than 1 minute.  Shouldn't she have released the tourniquet much sooner?

4) She did not invert any of the vials after the draw, just set them on the counter.  Suppose to invert the CBC lavender vial 8-10 times to mix the serum.  

My concern now is for potential infection due to her unsanitary procedures, and also that she hit a nerve as my arm has been numb and tingly since.

If anyone can share their thoughts on any of this, I would very much appreciate it.  Hopefully these details will help someone else.  
Thanks !  
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3118706_tn?1341997454
ok I am really scared now. I am a hard stick. were talking hard and i have a lot of medical problems so I am used to needles and them digging it hurts but I dont make any reactions. I am not going to show it. I just got out of the hospital for five days for one of my health problems gastroparsis. It usually takes at least 7 people to find a vein, one time at the er they stuck me 14 times and gave up and gave me meds in shot form which everyone knows  does not work quite as well. If i go to the er I am in extreme pain, i have chronic pain but thats not why I go, I have nausea everyday. anyone who has gotten sick and can't stop knows how it feels. took them two and a half days even with phenagren nausia medicine in the iv to stop me getting sick.Believe me I rather take the pain then the nausea and getting sick, I have both but give me more pain if it takes the nausea sickness away ok, while I was in the hospital they couldn't get any blood from me except in my fingers. Used to pain like I said but if people don't understand that it makes your two fingers really sore when they take blood at least three times a day for five days not to mention diabetes tests which isn't nothing but I am telling this story so you know about me and how hard for them to get it right. so one lady said they did your fingers the whole time? I said yeah. Its different from diabetic, they poke you  and scrape and push on your finger for about mmm 10 minuits scraping the whole time lol until they get a small tube of blood. lol. I forgot that part. anyway this lady says well I see a vein right here. everyone sees a vein its just when they get inside they usually don't get it. so see tries where my elbow is the minute she put that needle in I jumped and said whoa. she said u ok I said no a sharp pain went all the way down to my wrist, she said oh my took the needle out and said we will get it from the finger. It was wierdest  feeling and it hurt for awhile but I thought it went away now this was like the end of the hospital stay. when i started moving my arm or picking something up with my arm I felt a tingling pain go down my arm just like when she did that. It only hurts if I move it certain ways but now when I pulled myself out of the tub the pain came and now it went in my hand, my hand was tingling. so now I am a little scared, I just counted I have like ten bruises from the iv and blood people so i don't know if my arm is swelled up because of that on the side that it does it or not. the other arm isn't swollen. They usually put pick lines in me but they didnt know it was a long stay i guess. they said that I should ask my doctor for a port. I always joke with my parents well if I get in an accident or car accident and care flight comes I would die. thats who they usually try to get a iv on me in the er too that crew. I better be careful driving. anyway I was hoping it just goes away. i have to see my doctor in a few days so I figure its not life threating I hope
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Avatar_f_tn
Anyone who has had blood draw with severe pain during. hot pain going down rt arm feels like I hit funny bone from the bend of my arm to my wrist. I have been in so much pain is hard to sleep. I have read several articles ... What is this and what or where do I go from here?  I had a drs appointment I slept through my alarm its almost an hour away... Have another appointment with a different dr in the office on Friday my Fibromyalgia has flared up I don't feel like doing anything. I have an appt with a neurologist in Jan 2013 I do not want to go to hosp here where I live. I don't trust anyone there.
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1932338_tn?1349223998
Sounds like you are angry, and so was I.  My arm was numb and tingly for weeks after my blood draw and I was certain she hit a nerve because she drew the blood from my medial side (pinky side ) of the inside of my elbow...and that is the riskier of the 3 spots inside the elbow due to the risk of hitting the nerve there.
I wasn't sleeping well either, partly because of the numbness and partly because of the anger for this tech to have hit my nerve and kind of blow me off when I told her about the pain even before I left her office.
The good news is that the numbness (of which the actual Dr. told me could last up to 6 months) subsided in about 4 weeks...so hang in there and try to take your mind off of it.
Lesson learned:  Next time I go to an actual Phlebotomist that draws blood all day every day as opposed to a Tech at the Doctors office.  Then, I will ask questions ahead of time to insure they are conscientious or else they will NOT be putting a needle into my arm...not worth the risk of this happening again.
Good luck, and let us know how it goes please.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have been searching the internet because I have the same problem and symptoms.  I am an RN myself and am truly sorry with the problems I've read above.  As a nurse, we do try our best but as a professional I think we all need to be better educated upon doing blood draws to prevent these patterns of nerve damage!
I just went to get a blood draw done and the medical assistant was very good about using aseptic technique (cleaning well, using gloves etc.) although I should have known when she said I don't do this etc to the Physician Assistant.  A word of advice "professionals" if you don't do it that often, DON'T ATTEMPT!
Anyway, as soon as she stuck me I felt a shooting pain at the injection site (my antecubital fossa area, or the area above the elbow).  This was the FIRST time I have ever felt a pain like that.  For several hours after my arm hurt at the injection site especially when straightening my arm out.  And now, almost 12 hours later I still have a small-medium amount of pain.  I will be returning to the same clinic to have my TB test read but I will be bringing documents for them to pass on to their medical assistants so that in the future they will be careful during their blood draws and be taught better technique so other unsuspecting souls who pass their way are not hurt, especially permanently.  
I also wanted to pass on some medical studies from medical journals that may be of some help to those who are still experiencing pain.  I hope along with you that this will heal and not be permanent!  God bless!

Articles:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17359520
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/68334
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8604504/
http://www.medivisuals.com/antecubital-fossa-anatomy-and-venipuncture-20504001x.aspx
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Avatar_f_tn
I had the nerve damaged on my left arm after having blood drawn about 20 years ago and the tingling never went away.  I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis about four years ago and started on medication that required blood to be drawn every week for the first 4 weeks then fortnightly then monthly.  After about a year of using my left arm the nerve was hit again, very slightly, then hit again the next time.  I was told to inform all other phlebotomists to use my right arm in future.  This has been fine for the past few years but have now had my right arm damaged just last week.  I am now terrified, as I have to have my blood checked every month to remain on my medication.  Absolutely dreading getting them done again, don't know where they will draw it, if not the crook of my arm, I don't even like needles, the thought of them going anywhere else is making me sick.  I'm really angry that both my arms are now tingling.
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