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Patient claims procedure left her face paralyzed

A trial has been ordered in a medical malpractice lawsuit following a patient's complaint that an experimental university treatment in brain stimulation left her face paralyzed. The judge denied the hospital request to dismiss the medical malpractice suit. The trial is scheduled for October 15.

The district judge ruled the jury would decide if the female patient had been informed of the potential risks involved in her participation in a health-funded study into whether biofeedback could improve bowel function. The jury would also determine if the procedure caused the facial paralysis, and if doctors failed to subsequently provide her with proper treatment. The patient maintains she had not been warned of risks prior to the experimental study designed to provide treatment for gastrointestinal issues.

A university spokesman was not available to comment, claiming the facility had a strict policy of not being able to discuss pending litigation. The patient claims she was an employee of the hospital when she agreed to participate in the study. The procedure is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and is a relatively new treatment involving stimulation of the brain using magnetic energy. Little is known about its side effects, aside from its use in depression.

The patient contends the experiment resulted in a severe headache and inability to move her facial muscles. Following a visit to the emergency room, the victim states she should have been treated with a steroid and been referred for nerve decompression surgery. Her condition eventually worsened and her facial paralysis could not be reversed.

Legal spokespersons for the hospital state the procedure was done correctly and her facial paralysis was the result of a previous health condition. They determined that physicians acted appropriately. A medical advisor for the patient has claimed that the doctors performing the surgery were remiss in the handling of her case. The judge stated that medical opinions could vary surrounding the causes of the patient's injuries. The patient is seeking damages for pain and suffering and loss of income.

Experimental medical procedures may inspire hope in patients suffering from illness or disease. It is in one's best interest to properly inform oneself about all potential risks involving any kind of surgery whereby results could involve surgical error.

Source:, "Trial ordered in malpractice suit" No author given, Aug. 14, 2013

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