One recent lawsuit filed over this issue even resulted in a large compensation award. In a recent New York jury trial, a medical technician was ordered to pay $400,000 in compensation to a woman who was left with permanent skin discoloration. The cause? The medical technician had used excessive force, the jury held, in using an abrasive product to prepare the woman’s skin before outfitting her with an electrocardiogram (EKG) device.
Electrode Procedures Require Skin Abrasion
As the woman wrote in her lawsuit, she was at the doctor’s being outfitted with a Holter Monitor, a take-home electrocardiogram device that monitors the heart rate through multiple electrodes. Holter Monitors are usually worn for at least 24 hours, but the electrodes can fall off without good skin contact.
To prep patients, and improve the machine’s ability to defect electrical heart activity, dermatologists, cardiovascular surgeons and all manner of medical technicians carefully scrub away superficial layers of skin.
Proper Skin Prep Allows For More Accurate Readings
Removing stray hairs and dead skin cells improves the connection for the electrodes, while reducing the amount of skin electrical signals need to travel through. It’s an essential aspect of the skin preparation (or “skin prep”) process before any procedure that includes the use of electrodes, from electrocardiography and stress tests to electroencephalography, which reads brain activity.
A range of abrasive products can be used to remove dead skin cells. Some medical professionals prefer liquids or pastes made out of pumice, a porous type of volcanic rock. Several scrubbing pads are on the market, too, which provide a far better patient experience than the methods used historically: either actual sandpaper or scouring pads designed for industrial use.
Medical Sandpaper Tape
The most popular medical skin abrasion product, however, is likely the Red Dot Trace Skin Prep sold by 3M. It looks like a roll of Scotch tape, but inside you’ll find a spool of abrasive sandpaper-style material with sticky tape on the back. Doctors simply tear off a piece, stick it to their finger and gently brush away the skin where they plan to place electrodes.
The product, as 3M has long stated in marketing materials, “does not harm skin or hurt patient.” Needless to say, any risk of permanent skin discoloration has never been publicized by the manufacturer itself or the US Food & Drug Administration.
Nor are we suggesting that 3M’s product, or any other product used for skin abrasion prior to the use of electrodes, are defective, either in design, manufacturing or warning labels.
Jury: Negligence Led To Life-Long Disfigurement
But those are not the allegations made in the New York woman’s lawsuit. Instead, she argued that her technician had committed medical negligence, applying excessive force in using a sandpaper tape and causing irreversible damage to the top layer of her skin. As a result, she was left with three large patches of discolored skin on her chest, an injury that she says will be permanent.
Woman Refuses Settlement, Wins Jury Trial
In most cases, people assume that permanent forms of injury deserve permanent solutions. But before the trial was held in Westchester County, the defendant medical professional offered her a paltry settlement of $25,000. She refused, committing to a jury trial. And she won that trial, securing nearly 18 times the initial settlement amount. The technician has now been ordered to pay the injured woman $400,000 in compensation.
How Many Patients Have Been Harmed?
Is this an isolated incident? Or are medical professionals around the country responsible for permanent cases of skin discoloration through acts of negligence and recklessness?
Sandpaper tape is a benign product, designed solely to wear away superficial skin cells that could impede the transmission of electrical signals. And used properly, it should never leave a patient forever changed.
Now, our experienced malpractice attorneys are investigating similar cases, in which a doctor, cardiologist or medical technician’s negligence led directly to disfigurement, a legal term used for injuries that cause irreversible harm to a patient’s physical appearance.
Disfigurement & Life-Long Changes In Appearance
While most such cases of skin discoloration do not result in physical pain, the psychological effects of having one’s appearance altered without consent can be deep and troubling.
Some patients will suffer from depression or develop a negative body image; most will lose a certain measure of self-confidence. These emotional and psychological effects are true forms of damage, and of loss, harms that our civil justice system recognizes as such. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, patients are allowed to pursue financial compensation for their pain, suffering and emotional distress.
Contact A Skin Discoloration Attorney Today
Did you or a loved one suffer skin discoloration or other pigmentary changes after being treated by a medical professional? Were you diagnosed or treated for a disorder through the use of electrodes, but think the technician’s use of abrasive material altered the color of your skin?
Our experienced lawyers are here to help. You may have a viable medical malpractice claim, so it’s in your best interests to learn more about legal options. Contact us now for a free consultation. You can speak to a compassionate attorney today. It’s confidential and comes at no charge and no obligation. Just call now to get started.