A woman loses her arm due to a tragic physician error.
A new client had undergone an MRA of her right arm — a study similar to an MRI, but with the use of dye to evaluate the blood vessels in the arm. Shortly following the procedure, her arm became black and blue, swollen and cold, and it became apparent that the arm had become full of blood clots. Despite every measure that was taken, including the placement of leeches on the client’s fingers to try to suck the blood clots out of her arm, the medical team was not successful. Our client had to undergo amputation of her dominant arm.
What had gone wrong?
We obtained the records from the treating hospital and had them reviewed by a potential expert who advised that he could not see any departures from accepted standards of care. The client did have a known blood disorder that could potentially have caused the clotting, he said, but that explanation troubled us. Her blood disorder had never caused this problem in her 55 years of life.
So, instead of relying on his advice and turning down the case, we ordered the FDA file pertaining to the contrast material known as Gadolinium. The FDA materials prescribed the calculation for how much dye should be administered per kilogram of weight of the patient, and when we did the math, we realized that the client had received twice the recommended amount.
We went back to the expert and pointed that out to him and he agreed not only that the patient had received twice as much contrast material as should have been administered, but also that that it was a deviation from accepted standards of care and was the cause of the clotting and amputation.
Through the course of discovery, which was served not only on the defendant physician’s current hospital, but also the hospital where the physician had previously been affiliated, it turned out that he had been fired from his previous hospital for just this type of infraction. Despite this background, his current employer gave him staff privileges, and he continued the same pattern of over-dosage of Gadolinium.
As part of the settlement, it was agreed that the defendant physician would no longer be permitted to perform this type of procedure and hurt any more innocent patients.