When Amy Bright gave birth to her youngest son in 2003, it never crossed her mind that she would end up with an epidural needle left in her spine.
But two months after her C-section, Bright began experiencing severe back pain. Later, over the years she also suffered nerve damage and it was difficult for her to use her left leg and foot. At first, doctors thought it was sciatica.
According to Mayo Clinic, sciatica it is a type of pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, usually affecting only one side of the body.
However, the truth was finally revealed after a CT scan showed a portion of a broken needle sticking out of her spine. The last time she had an epidural was during her delivery more than a decade ago.
Epidural Needle Left in Her Spine for 14 Years
Amy Bright’s CT Scans showing the epidural needle left in her spine | Image courtesy of Sean B. Cronin, Esq
According to Bright and her attorney Sean Cronin, a large part of a spinal needle had broken off and was embedded in Bright’s lower back. The needle measuring three centimetres long is lodged in Bright’s spine, with the majority part of it directly “buried into the bone.”
Bright was extremely upset and scared when she spoke with People:
“Every time I move and walk and bend and twist and sleep, that needle moves inside my spine. For 14 years, I’ve been creating scar tissue in my spine from this needle moving. I’m angry.”
For 14 years she endured the back pain. Doctors prescribed her painkillers, muscle relaxants and other medications to help with the pain.
“It has gotten to the point where it just burns constantly. I’m very scared of my future. [My leg] is getting weaker. I’m probably going to be in a wheelchair. It’s scary because I don’t know.”
It is too late to remove the needle now as doctors and experts tell Bright she might risk getting paralyzed.
Malpractice and Fraud
Amy Bright, the mum with an epidural needle left in her spine | Image courtesy of Sean B. Cronin
Bright and her attorney are insisting that the whole matter was not disclosed. There was no way the doctors couldn’t have known that the needle had broken and part of it was in Bright’s body.
According to Cronin, the needles are about 9 or 10 centimetres long and have a tip on the end. It is the job of the anaesthesiologist to inspect that they retract the whole needle.
“They knew this was in her, according to our experts, because so much of the needle was missing. And the safety tip is still in her.”
They have filed an official complaint against the hospital and have plans to file a lawsuit in the coming months.
When contacted by People, Naval Hospital Jacksonville declined to comment on the matter.
Planning for the Future
With no chance of removing the epidural needle left in her spine, the future is uncertain for Bright. The mum of six says that she hardly brings this matter up at home anymore because it makes her husband upset.
Unfortunately for Bright, she continues to feel the effects of having the epidural needle left in her spine especially in her legs. She is trying to make arrangements for physical therapy sessions. She feels paranoid and scared.
Because of the epidural needle left in her spine, Bright’s condition may continue to deteriorate. She may need to resort to therapy and medication for the rest of her life.
In conclusion, she told People, “I’m trying to prepare for my future and the help and support I’m going to need.”
We dearly hope that justice will prevail and that she ends up getting the support she needs.
Risks of Administering Epidural Anaesthesia
- Epidurals may cause your blood pressure to suddenly drop. Nurses will continue checking your blood pressure to ensure adequate blood flow to your baby.
- You may experience a severe headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid.
- After your epidural is placed, lying in one position can sometimes cause labour to slow down or stop.
- There are side effects such as shivering, a ringing of the ears, backache, soreness where the needle is inserted, nausea, or difficulty urinating.
- You might find pushing more difficult and additional medications or interventions may be needed, such as forceps or cesarean.
- You might be numb for a few hours after the birth and require assistance.
- In rare instances, permanent nerve damage may result in the area where the catheter was inserted.
Sources: People, Mayo Clinic, American Pregnancy Association