A recent lawsuit accuses one medical technician of causing permanent skin discoloration by using skin prep sandpaper with excessive force. Our experienced attorneys are now investigating similar malpractice cases on behalf of other patients.
- EKG Testing
- Stress Tests
Were you or a loved one affected by skin discoloration after medical care? You may be able to pursue financial compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our experienced attorneys can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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A woman in New York has secured $450,000 in compensation after a medical technician left her chest with permanent skin discoloration. The professional, a Westchester County jury ruled, had used excessive force in removing a special sandpaper-style tape that prepares the skin for electrocardiogram (EKG) tests.
Medical Sandpaper Led To Skin Discoloration
Sandpaper tape, widely-used in cardiology, strip away superficial layers of skin cells, improving the skin’s conductance and allowing EKG machines to read the heart’s electrical activity. Handled with care, they should not disfigure a patient or alter the skin’s color.
But after undergoing a Holter Monitor test, in which EKG leads are left on the body for at least 24 hours, the New York woman discovered to her dismay that three large patches of skin discoloration had been left on her chest. The skin damage, attorneys argued at trial, is expected to be permanent, but the defendant medical professional, in pre-trial settlement negotiations, had offered only $25,000 in compensation.
Thankfully, the woman rejected the settlement offer and took her case to trial, ultimately winning $450,000 in damages. Now, attorneys believe that other patients who have suffered similar injuries may also be eligible to pursue compensation.
Electrocardiogram & Stress Tests
Electrocardiogram tests are often used to create accurate readings of the heartbeat. A Holter Monitor is a specific type of EKG, powered by a battery, that patients take home and wear for extended periods of time. In most cases, patients will be asked to wear the monitor for between 24 and 48 hours, although newer devices can be used for up to two weeks.
The machine is connected by wires to small patches that can be stuck to the patient’s chest. These electrodes register the heart’s electrical activity, allowing doctors to analyze the heart’s rhythm and diagnose cardiovascular disorders like the irregular heartbeat condition known as arrhythmia, WebMD reports.
Sandpaper tape is also used before stress tests, which can help doctors diagnose various forms of heart disease or evaluate whether a heart medication is working properly. After fixing multiple EKG electrodes to the chest and torso, the patient will begin to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. As the exercise becomes more difficult, doctors can monitor the heart’s response to exertion and, in turn, determine whether or not the heart is receiving enough blood and oxygen during strenuous physical activity.
Abrasive Skin Prep For EKG Testing
But the skin is a poor conductor of electricity, a fact represented by the technical phrase “skin impedance.” Human skin resists the kind of alternating electrical current that electrocardiogram readings rely on. So the skin must be carefully prepared for any of these tests to work correctly.
People with lots of chest hair are usually shaved, and everyone will have portions of their chest scrubbed or scraped to remove dead skin cells that would impede conduction. Scrubbing also helps the electrodes stick to the skin, rather than falling off.
Have EKG Skin Prep Tape Risks Been Publicized Before?
In any event, permanent skin discoloration is an exceedingly-rare side effect of this diagnostic technique. It is, in essence, simply tape with an abrasive backing. Manufacturer instructions, however, warn medical professionals to use only moderate force in applying or removing the product. There are no warnings that mention a risk of skin discoloration specifically.
Sandpaper Tape Is Not The Only Option
It’s important to note that dermatologists and cardiologists have many options at their disposal to prepare a patient’s skin prior to electrocardiographic tests.
Several companies now sell skin preparation sprays that, when applied before a sandpaper is used, can cut down on pain, scraping and abrasion. Tape-style sandpaper products have been joined by abrasive pads and pumice-based liquids. These newer methods are far better than the barbaric way doctors used to prep their patients, by using real sandpaper or industrial scrubbing pads.
Medical Malpractice & Skin Discoloration
To date, our experienced attorneys have only been able to identify one case of skin discoloration related to the improper use of medical sandpaper tape. As we’ve seen, the lawsuit resulted in a large jury verdict for the plaintiff, one that was 18 times larger than the defendant’s initial settlement offer.
Crucial to remember is that this first skin discoloration case was filed as a medical malpractice lawsuit, rather than a product liability claim. The plaintiff, in other words, did not argue that a sandpaper tape was defective, but that the product was used negligently by a medical professional. We have no reason, at this point in investigations, to believe that any skin prep product currently on the market is marred by defects, but we are continuing to explore all legal avenues for our clients.
Skin Discoloration Can Cause Emotional Distress
In the past, a number of other medical patch products have come under fire over skin discoloration risks. In 2015, the US Food & Drug Administration warned patients and medical professionals that Daytrana, a patch used to release ADHD medication, had been linked to a form of skin discoloration known as chemical leukoderma. The patch, government officials said, could lighten the patient’s skin after repeated exposures. The skin color changes were irreversible, FDA experts noted, a fact that could lead to emotional distress.
A year later, a prescription antibiotic prescribed for severe acne, Solodyn, was linked to several cases of hyperpigmentation, a condition in which patches of the skin become darker than surrounding tissue. While many of these skin discoloration disorders are painless, some patients experience significant psychological stress and anxiety.
Learn More About Filing A Skin Discoloration Lawsuit
Did you or a loved one experience skin discoloration after undergoing an electrocardiogram test, wearing a Holter Monitor or doing a stress test? Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can help. Contact us today to receive a free consultation and begin exploring your legal options now.