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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    5

    Default Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    My question involves medical malpractice in the state of: Virginia

    So this morning I woke up and, long story short, my left ear was clogged with wax. I have a history of clogged ear canals, tubes, etc.

    I decided to take some sick leave at work to cut out early and go see a doctor to get a cleaning (I had had this done before when I was young, and knew it was relatively routine), due to some elevated levels of discomfort.

    I go to a walk-in clinic (I am from MI, but am currently in VA pursuing an internship, so I am away from my normal Doctor's office).

    Everything seems to be going fine, the Doctor and nurse both comment on my crazy ear canals, lots of wax, etc. They say they will do a cleaning, and I agree.

    One of the first things i notice is that the nurse appears a bit "inexperienced", and not like most nurses I have had before. There are several minor, and a few major factors that play into this deduction, and if you want me to get into the minor ones, I can.

    So, for a quick reference, an ear cleaning involves a pre-application of some solution into the ear to soften the wax up, taking a vary large syringe (think "turkey baster") with a very tiny tip, filling it with a mix of Hydrogen Peroxide and water, and squirting the mixture into the ear. The high pressure, combined with the hydrogen peroxide, tends to remove most of the wax. The syringe seems very unweildly, and the nozzle size seems to require a practiced hand for proper application within the ear.

    Regardless, my left ear is cleaned without a problem, and only once during the procedure was I in any discomfort, with a TINY bit of pain (I'm used to it with my convoluted canals) and i just shrugged it off.

    Now something that really gets me is that after the procedure there is a bunch of "goop" in a medical tray (liquid used to dislodge wax, more wax, etc). The nurse, to my surprise, goes over to the sink and pours it out in the sink, then throws the plastic tray into the bio-hazard bin. That strikes me as a bit odd... There is also some manual cleanup that needed to be done, and again, the nurse removes some wax with an implement, and then rinses it off in the sink, and decides to use it again!

    So, now my right ear is up for cleaning. The first application of the syringe HURT. The left ear is like a mosquito. This is like a hammer on your thumb. I tell the nurse to please be careful, remind her about my ear canals, ear tube removal, etc (all of which was thoroughly stated in the initial triage check), and to please tone it down on the next "squirt". The next squirt doesn't go so well. I feel pressure build and seemingly rip open my ear-drum. White hot pain sears through my head, like a 10/10 on the pain scale. I also get dizzy and fall back against the examination table. I am in excruciating pain, literally groaning and crying. The nurse runs to get the doctor, absolutely clueless as to what to do. She goes and gets "ice", as if its somehow going to help.

    The doctor comes in and gives me some Ibuprofen about 45 seconds. I hear her say in the hallway to the nurse "Just give him like 10 minutes, he will be fine".

    I basically sit there, lying down, trying to recover for about 15 minutes. I'm literally moaning, groaning, and crying the whole way. It hurt pretty dang bad. I never realized how bad your ear could hurt.

    I finally think I can deal with the pain a bit, and get up, dizzy. I take a minute to orient myself, and then the doctor comes back into the room. She checks my ears, and of course without any delicateness jams her ear-checker-cone-device-thing (you know what I mean!) into my right ear, shooting another bolt of pain into my head. That being done, she says there is still wax, but they will hold off for now.

    She then prescribes 3 days of Ibuprofen, and recommends some random ear cleaner over the counter solution. They say I am good to go, but if my ear still hurts tomorrow, to come back (making me wonder why she prescribed THREE days of pain meds?).

    Unsure what to do about what just happened, I leave the clinic, feeling a bit confused and generally just wanting to get the heck out of there! My ear then remains in pain, maybe a 6/10 on the pain scale, to this very minute of typing this post.

    I am unsure what to do, but I want to know if I have any grounds for a case in this situation.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
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    13,373

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    Ibuprofen is for inflammation and mild pain relief. If you have any discomfort or a hearing issue, after a day or so, I would see a specialist and proceed from there. As your concern is making money, rather than complaining about a problem, I think you just lost your quarter in the slot machine. Thank You, Come play Lawsuit Lottery again another day.
    With enough thrust, pigs fly just fine.
    You may believe that you understood what you think I said. I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    15,931

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    I am unsure what to do, but I want to know if I have any grounds for a case in this situation.
    What kind of case do you fancy yourself to have?

    Medical procedures sometimes hurt, even ones that are "routine".
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    I couldn't even go in to work today because my balance was completely off and my ear was throbbing. I'm a young guy, and I can't afford not to work because I've got tuition and bills to cover. I've looked around, and an ear cleaning is definitely NOT supposed to hurt. I believe that the inexperienced nurse ruptured my ear drum, which is certainly not what I went in for.

    I'm kind of grasping at straws here as to "technically" what kind of case this would be, but I would think something like suing for damages. I currently am very concerned about the state of my right ear, as I do not know if permanent damage was done to it. I have to look into that more.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
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    13,373

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    Now you are focusing on a potentially real injury. I would call an ear specialist and request an emergency appt. ASAP.
    With enough thrust, pigs fly just fine.
    You may believe that you understood what you think I said. I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    3,393

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    If you are concerned damage was done, you should seek a consult with a reputable ENT specialist. If there is no permanent damage, which is possible, then you don't really have a case for anything.
    I had horrible ear problems as a child and I remember there were occasions that the wax was so built up that the cleaning hurt. I don't recall having severe balance issues but then my balance was already off because of the problems.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    15,931

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    I've looked around, and an ear cleaning is definitely NOT supposed to hurt.
    They don't, usually. But if you've had a tympanostomy - that is, tubes in your ears - they sometimes can. And if you have a cold/infection that you're not aware of, they can also hurt.

    I believe that the inexperienced nurse ruptured my ear drum
    So when you went to the ER to have your eardrum checked out, what did the doctor say?

    I'm kind of grasping at straws here as to "technically" what kind of case this would be, but I would think something like suing for damages.
    You're not "kind of" grasping at straws. There aren't any to grasp. You can't even articulate what quantifiable damages you've suffered.

    You're doing this ass-backwards, kiddo. FIRST, you seek out medical attention to determine if there actually was any damage done. THEN, if there was, you take your medical records to a med-mal attorney (it will cost you to do this, reviewing records takes time), who will determine if there's a case to be made. THEN you shell out several thousand dollars to bring forth a suit, IF you can find an attorney who thinks you have a shot at recovering damages. No, no one is going to take "my ear hurt" on contingency. That's reserved for things like huge car crashes.

    Get your horse back in front of your cart, and proceed from there.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,625

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    No credible malpractice lawyer who believes in his case will charge the patient for an expert's review of the medical record, but I could see how a medical malpractice lawyer might help somebody who does not appear to have a credible case connect with and retain an expert to review the files. Given that the cost is typically $5,000 or more for a doctor's review, that's not a cost a firm is going to eat if they don't think there's a case to be made.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    supratentorial region
    Posts
    818

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    It is not abnormal to have dizziness/vertigo/some pain after the removal of impacted ear wax. It's caused by the sudden release of pressure against the ear drum.
    The nurse, to my surprise, goes over to the sink and pours it out in the sink, then throws the plastic tray into the bio-hazard bin. That strikes me as a bit odd...
    How so?

    the nurse removes some wax with an implement, and then rinses it off in the sink, and decides to use it again!
    Once the earloop has touched you, it is no longer sterile, so it's fine to use it again on you.

    She checks my ears, and of course without any delicateness jams her ear-checker-cone-device-thing (you know what I mean!)
    Otoscope. She has to be able to see your ear drum. Since you have a deformed ear canal, she may have to manipulate the scope in order to better visualize it.

    I am unsure what to do, but I want to know if I have any grounds for a case in this situation.
    As already stated, make an appointment with an ENT for evaluation and possible continued treatment.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Routine Ear Cleaning Turns into Excruciating Pain, Can Anything Be Done

    Did you go to one of those "Doc in a box" places ? I wouldn't make a habit of going to them....especially for a specialized type of ear thing.......I've had that done a couple of times and its always tricky......I've had doctors tell me, "we'll get Nurse so and so because she's good at that ear cleaning thing".....its kind of tricky to do it just right.

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