Loss of Hearing, Taste, and Smell
Every second of our waking life, our bodies and brains are collecting and processing information from our senses. So much of it is happening in the background of our minds that we don’t even notice unless we’re paying attention to a particular sense. But imagine life if you could no longer hear, taste, or smell. Your experience of the world would be dulled.
Sometimes loss of a particular sense may be the result of negligence by a medical or dental provider. If you believe that has happened to you, you may have a medical malpractice claim.
Loss of Hearing
Hearing loss or tinnitus can be debilitating conditions that affect how you interact with the world around you, including your relationships with others and how you do your job. When you lose hearing as an adult, you may have to undergo expensive surgery or require assistive devices. You may have to ask for special accommodations at your job and learn new ways to communicate with others without the benefit of sound to which you’re accustomed. Your quality of life may be diminished when you can no longer hear your children’s laughter or listen to your favorite music in the car on your commute.
Hearing loss in babies and children can affect how they learn and develop. They may struggle to learn communication, language, and social skills, and you may never experience the joy of your child calling you “Mama” or “Dada” for the first time. Children with hearing loss may require special education when they reach school age or technology to help them communicate.
Hearing loss falls into three categories based on the nature of the problem in the ear:
- Conductive — This type of hearing loss is linked to problems or damage to the ear drum, ear canal, middle ear, or the tiny bones in the ear that help sound move into the inner ear.
- Sensorineural — This type of hearing loss is due to problems with your inner ear, including the nerves.
- Mixed — A combination of the other two types, which may indicate damage to the multiple parts of the ear or the auditory nerve.
Hearing loss commonly is caused by birth defects, illness, accidents, or simply aging. But sometimes it may be the result of medical malpractice. Some common ways that medical negligence may affect hearing loss include:
- Surgical Errors — When a medical provider makes a mistake while performing surgery or other procedures on the ear, the result could include perforation of the eardrum, leaving a foreign body in the ear that impairs function, infection, or damage to the sensitive nerves in the inner ear. Any of these could cause tinnitus or hearing loss. Mistakes during brain surgery or treatment of brain injuries also may result in hearing loss if the parts of the brain related to sound and hearing are damaged.
- Failure to Diagnose or Treat Ear Conditions — Bacterial infections or tumors in the ear each may lead to hearing loss if left untreated. When a physician, nurse, or other medical provider fails to recognize the signs of an infection or tumor and to apply the proper treatment and tinnitus or hearing loss results, that may be malpractice.
- Failure to Treat Hearing Loss — Some hearing loss can be treated with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants. If a medical provider fails to diagnose your hearing loss or to recommend a treatment that would improve your hearing and your quality of life, that may be malpractice.
Loss of Taste
Imagine life without the pleasure of a cup of dark roast coffee on a Sunday morning, or a hot dog smothered in relish at a Cubs game, or a forkful of succulent turkey followed by pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Taking a bite of a good meal can be one of the great pleasures in life, and when the sense of taste is lost, the world can seem like a less colorful and interesting place.
There are a few ways that loss of taste might be caused by medical negligence.
- Dental Errors — When a dentist, oral surgeon, or other oral health provider makes a mistake while performing surgery or other procedures inside your mouth, one complication could be the loss of your sense of taste. Loss of taste can be the result of injuries to the nerves in your tongue, a complication of anesthesia, or failure to detect and treat tumors.
- Brain Injuries — Loss of taste may occur when a medical provider causes injury to the part of your brain that receives and processes messages from your taste buds or to the nerves that carry those messages.
- Radiation Errors — When a medical provider makes an error while using radiation to treat cancer, loss of taste is one possible consequence.
Loss of Smell
We may not give much thought to how our sense of smell impacts our world. It’s nice to catch a whiff of the first flower blossoms on a spring breeze, or of chocolate chip cookies baking in the kitchen, but we could live without that if we had to, right?
The sense of smell actually relays important information to us all the time. Think about how many people have been alerted to fires in their homes and whose lives were saved because they woke to the smell of smoke before feeling the heat or seeing the flames. Our sense of smell often saves us from biting into rotting food and potentially getting sick. Our sense of smell may not be as glamorous in the scheme of things as sight or hearing, but it is nonetheless important to our daily lives, and can have a detrimental effect on the quality of our lives when it is lost.
There are a few ways that medical malpractice might cause a loss of the ability to smell:
- Infection — Infections in the nasal cavity could cause damage to tissue or nerves that results in loss of smell. Infections may happen when medical or dental providers fail to follow proper hygiene and infection control procedures, including hand-washing, using gloves when touching patients, and sterilizing medical or dental instruments.
- Surgical Errors — Mistakes made during nasal surgery may damage tissue or nerves and lead to loss of smell.
- Brain Injuries — When the brain is injured or damaged by medical negligence, loss of smell may occur if the part of the brain that receives and processes olfactory information is harmed.
What an Attorney Can Do For You
An experienced Chicago injury lawyer can discuss the specific details of your case and evaluate whether you might have a claim. Through a successful claim, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of normal life. Your lawyer can help you pursue compensation by investigating your injuries, gathering evidence to support your claim, negotiating an insurance settlement, or filing a lawsuit to pursue your claim in court.