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Broken epidural needle found in woman's spine after 14 years

The top news story of the year was the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Top songs of 2004 included hits by Britney Spears, Dixie Chicks and Kid Rock. Top movies included "Finding Nemo," "Mystic River" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

If all of that seems like a long, long time ago, ponder this: a woman who gave birth that year and has suffered back pain ever since just found out the source of the ache: she had a broken epidural needle stuck in her spine. She is apparently planning to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the military hospital where she gave birth in 2004.

The 41-year-old gave birth to a son in September of 2013 at a Naval Hospital in Florida. She and her family thought everything was fine after the C-section.

A couple of months later, she began having severe back pain, however. 

Last fall, a CT scan revealed the source of the pain and back problems: an inch-long piece of an epidural needle was impaled in her spine. Doctors who gave her an epidural apparently stuck the needle there 14 years ago.

She and her medical malpractice attorney both say that they believe the hospital knew about the broken needle, but withheld information about it from her.

The lawyer said medical records document the fact that there was an "an unsuccessful spinal needle attempt" at the hospital.

Unsurprisingly, there is significant nerve damage as a result of having a needle in her spine for 14 years. She has limited use of her left leg and foot, a news report indicates.

Removing the needle might be the best course of action. Its removal now could result in permanent paralysis. Unfortunately, leaving it there could also have the same result.

The woman will have to undergo physical therapy and use pain medications for the rest of her life.

She will also have to decide what is to be done with the needle -- leave it or remove it. She has apparently made up her mind to file a malpractice claim against doctors and hospital.

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