Burned by Physical Therapy: What to Do When Malpractice Leads to Electrical Stimulation Burns

Patients with orthopedic, muscular, or neurological conditions often utilize physical therapy. One routine treatment a physical therapist might perform for such a patient is electrical stimulation. When performed correctly, electrical stimulation has benefits, including improved blood flow to targeted areas and pain relief.

Electrical stimulation burns involve severe pain and sometimes permanent scarring and neurological damage. Unfortunately, some physical therapists are misinformed about the risks of electrical stimulation treatments and how to manage those risks. Failure to adhere to safety and sanitation standards can cause first, second, or even third-degree burns. Some patients have a delayed pain reaction, so they do not realize they were burned until after the treatment.

If you or a loved one were burned during an electrical stimulation treatment, we invite you to call our office to schedule a free consultation. As experienced electrical stimulation burn lawyers, we can analyze your case, advise you of your legal options, and zealously fight for justice and maximum compensation. 

Was Your Burn Caused By Physical Therapy Malpractice?

Was your burn caused by physical therapy?Physical therapy malpractice falls under the broader category of medical malpractice. According to Michigan law, healthcare providers, including physical therapists, have a professional duty to provide an appropriate standard of care for their patients. The standard of care refers to the level and type of care that a reasonably competent healthcare professional with a similar background and in the same medical community would have provided under similar circumstances. This includes accurately diagnosing conditions, providing appropriate treatment, informing patients of potential risks, and discussing treatment alternatives.

Physical therapists must adhere to protocols and procedures that ensure patient safety during treatment. This includes properly calibrating and monitoring equipment, such as electrical stimulation devices, to prevent injuries like burns. When a physical therapist neglects to uphold this standard of care, and this negligence results in injury to the patient, they may be liable for malpractice.

The Legal Basis for Medical Malpractice for Electrical Stimulation Treatments

When performing electrical stimulation treatments, the physical therapist is responsible for ensuring the device is functioning correctly and that the patient is not at risk of harm. If a patient suffers an electrical stimulation burn due to the therapist’s failure to properly perform or supervise the treatment and harm results, this could be grounds for a malpractice claim. As electrical stimulation burn attorneys, we can help.

Additionally, a medical provider must inform a patient of all risks associated with a specific treatment before the treatment is provided so that the patient can make an informed decision about whether to undergo the treatment.  As an example, some treatments – like surgery – always carry risks like infection, even if the treatment is properly performed.

If a physical therapist or doctor does not warn a patient about a potential treatment risk or if they incorrectly assure a patient that such treatments cannot cause serious burns,  this could also constitute a breach of the standard of care if the patient is harmed.

How Are Electrical Stimulation Treatments Administered?

How are electrical stimulation treatments administered?Electrical stimulation treatments use a machine that connects wires to adhesive pads on a patient’s skin to penetrate the tissue with electrical currents. Strong conductivity is crucial to penetrate the individual’s tissue without generating heat that can cause significant burns. Electrical stimulation machines achieve strong conductivity by using insulated wires made of highly conductive materials such as copper and pads designed to be wet and sticky to promote conductivity. These pads can be reused for the same patient, but they must be stored on the backing sheet that they came on in a sealed bag to be reused safely.

What Physical Therapist Errors Commonly Cause Electrical Stimulation Burn Injuries?

Common physical therapist errors that cause poor conductivity resulting in electrical stimulation burns include:

  • Improper insulation of wires
  • Improper storage of electrical stimulation pads, causing drying or contamination
  • Failure to clean the patient’s skin before applying electrical stimulation pads to prevent contamination from dirt, skincare products, and dead skin cells
  • Reusing electrical stimulation pads too many times
  • Failure to use a conductivity meter to ensure conductivity is at a safe level before beginning stimulation
  • Failure to monitor the patient for symptoms of skin irritation and burns during treatment
  • Using electrical stimulation on patients with contraindicated conditions, including diabetic neuropathy

A physical therapy malpractice lawyer can review your physical therapy treatment records and burn injuries to determine if your electrical stimulation burn was likely caused by one of these mistakes.

What Compensation Can You Expect From A Physical Therapy Malpractice Lawsuit?

Compensation can include economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, related to the malpractice. The amount and type of damages you are entitled to will depend on the individual facts of your case, including the severity of the electrical stimulation burn and how it has affected your quality of life. Our electrical stimulation burn lawyers are experienced with computing damages and can explain what compensation you might receive after reviewing the facts of your case. However, no amount or type of compensation can be guaranteed.

Schedule A Free Consultation With An Experienced Physical Therapy Malpractice Attorney

Electrical stimulation burns can cause extreme pain and permanent damage. If you or a loved one has suffered an electrical stimulation burn due to a physical therapist error, as physical therapy malpractice lawyers, we can help. For decades, we have represented the victims of medical malpractice, and we now represent clients who have been injured through electrical stimulation burns.  At Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace, we are passionate about advocating for patients affected by physical therapy malpractice. We invite you to contact our office to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you in your fight for justice.