Malpractice Lawsuit Against Johns Hopkins Phlebotomist | Maryland Malpractice Attorneys

Taub v. Johns Hopkins Hospital

This is a phlebotomist malpractice case against Johns Hopkins. The victim was allegedly injured donating blood in anticipation of a bone marrow donation.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A Stafford, Virginia woman goes to the phlebotomy lab at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She is scheduled to give an autologous blood donation in preparation for a bone marrow donation.

When the phlebotomist places the needle in her right arm to initiate the donation, she immediately feels pain and numbness causing her to yell. A resident physician tells her that the needle likely struck a nerve, and advises her to call back in a few days if the symptoms persist. After experiencing several days of pain, numbness, burning, and tingling, the woman contacts Johns Hopkins and is referred for evaluation and treatment.

After evaluation, it is determined that the woman suffered injury to the lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve in her right arm. This nerve is the sensory continuation of the musculocutaneous nerve which supplies the flexor muscles of the elbow. Notwithstanding medical treatment, medication, and the passing of time, the woman continues to experience neurological symptoms in her right upper extremity, including pain and numbness. She is still undergoing regular medical care and treatment.

The woman files a medical negligence lawsuit against Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore City, alleging that it violated the standard of care by failing to take reasonable care not to strike a nerve in the woman's arm when inserting the needle to draw blood. She, along with her husband, also file a loss of consortium claim.

The woman continues to experience significant pain, numbness, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and loss of wages and wage earning capacity as a result of her injury, which are likely to be permanent in nature.

Jurisdiction
  • Baltimore City
Defendants
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Health System Corporation
Negligence
  • Failed to take reasonable care in inserting needle into the woman's arm
Specific Counts Pled
  1. Patient Giving Blood Negligence- Johns Hopkins Hospital
  2. Negligence- Johns Hopkins Health System Corporation
  3. Loss of Consortium
Additional Comments
  • When you give blood (a larger needle is used donating blood than in regular venipuncture) there is a risk of nerve injury even when the phlebotomist follows the standard of care. It is a blind poke into the arm or hand and the phlebotomist cannot see every possible structure that the needle could hit. In other words, many of these phlebotomy nerve injuries occur in the absence of negligence. The harsh reality is that most of these cases end in defense verdicts.
  • That said, there are a number of things a phlebotomist can do that is a breach of the standard of care and these can be very viable cases. Many phlebotomy lawsuits follow when the phlebotomist stray without a good reason from the median cubital vein. Draws to the median cubital veins are greatly preferred because they are closer to the surface of the skin, more stationary, and involve a less painful needle insertion. Accordingly, draws to the median cubital vein are less likely to injure nerves even if needle placement is not optimal. The basilic vein is tempting because it is easier, but it should be a last resort because of risk of injury to structures in proximity to the basilic vein, i.e. the brachial artery and the underlying nerves.
  • Similarly, drawing blood from the hand is considered an advanced phlebotomy procedure. Hand draws are recognized to have an increased risk of injury to the nerves of the hand. This procedure should be avoided whenever a vein in the arm can be accessed.
  • The angle of the draw also matters. The standard of care says that an insertion angle of 15-30 degrees is optimal. A low angle goes a long way in minimizing risk.
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More Malpractice Claim Information
  • What is the value of a medical negligence claim in Maryland?
  • Sample lawsuit against Hopkins
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  • This is a sample complaint in a lawsuit Miller & Zois filed against Hopkins
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