When you take your child to a clinic for stitches for a minor injury, you don’t expect the experience to end in amputation.
But that’s exactly what happened to a girl who visited a military clinic in Norfolk in 2011. Now the case has resulted in a $125,000 settlement from the federal government, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
The article said the girl was seven when she lost her thumb on her left hand. She has since faced a struggle to learn to write with her right hand.
The lawsuit was the result of a visit on Aug. 12, 2011 to Sewells Point Branch Medical Clinic in Norfolk, an acute care clinic associated with Portsmouth Naval Medical Center. The lawsuit sought $2 million in damages, reported the Virginian-Pilot.
The report alluded to court documents that indicated the “girl’s left thumb was injured when the tip was pinched in a car door.” The cut required a nerve block and sutures at the clinic. Medical staff applied a compression wrap manufactured by 3M Health Care, reported the Pilot.
The claim said the wrap applied at the clinic acted as a tourniquet, “resulting in impaired circulation to the thumb, and eventual death of the digit.”
The child’s mother removed the wrap on the evening of Aug. 13, after her daughter complained the dressing felt “too tight.” She replaced it with a loose gauze dressing, according to the lawsuit.
The mother and her daughter went back to the clinic Aug. 15, 16 and 17, when a doctor diagnosed the girl with “necrosis of the pulp.” Her thumb was amputated the next week.
It’s always sad when an apparent medical mistake leads to the disfigurement of a child. The lawsuit was brought by Karl Protil Jr., an attorney representing the girl’s mother. He told the Pilot, the settlement was the product of lengthy negotiations with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He said the government denied fault made strong arguments for why its medical staff was not liable for what happened to the girl’s thumb.
The federal government routinely admits to no wrongdoing in cases like this and a 2009 case in which it agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a medical malpractice case filed by the family of a woman who lost her life at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center after a routine surgery to remove an infected boil.
Every year there are thousands of cases of medical malpractice in US hospitals. These can be complicated cases to litigate and there are also caps on what you can recover in Virginia. However, if you have suffered a serious injury due to a mistake at a hospital or if you have lost a loved one, call us for a free consultation at 757.455.0077 or see our medical malpractice FAQs.