Medical testing, poor follow-up paralyzed woman’s face

Medical testing is an important part of the improvement of our knowledge of diseases and advancement of new treatments. People who volunteer to test experimental medications or procedures contribute a great deal to society. But they may be risking their health if the testers do not fully disclose the risks the experiment carries, or fails to provide necessary treatment in the event of a negative reaction.

That is what a woman whose face is paralyzed says happened to her. She is suing the hospital where she underwent testing of a controversial device for medical malpractice.

The woman was an employee of the hospital in 2008 when she agreed to take part in a study of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. That is a procedure that uses a coil to send magnetic pulses through the scalp. TMS is sometimes used to treat depression, but little has been proven about the procedure’s effectiveness and long-term effects.

The study the plaintiff volunteered for sought to test TMS’ effect on constipation and incontinence. She underwent TMS treatments, which gave her a terrible headache.

Her symptoms grew worse the next day, when she work up largely unable to move her face. She went to the hospital’s emergency room and doctors prescribed her an anti-viral drug, eye drops and an eye patch. It is not clear shy doctors believed she had a viral infection, but the treatment was ineffective.

Twelve days later, she was given steroids and underwent nerve decompression surgery. She regained her sense of taste but her face remains paralyzed. She says that doctors should have treated her for nerve damage immediately, instead of nearly two weeks later.

Source: Des Moines Register, “Trial ordered in lawsuit that alleges U of I doctors paralyzed patient’s face,” Ryan J. Foley, Aug. 13, 2013


Hospital Negligence

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