Settlement Reached in Iowa Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Settlement Reached in Iowa Medical Malpractice LawsuitAn $875,000 lawsuit has been settled in Iowa, in which the state agreed to pay the sum to the family of a girl who allegedly had to have her leg amputated, requiring her to use a brace in order to walk for the remainder of her life, after complications arose during a surgery performed at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), the Chicago Tribune reports.

According to the news source, the settlement was approved the week of August 1 by the State Appeals Board concerning the case of Katelyn Pearson, 16, of Salem, Iowa. The complaint states that Pearson was 11 when she underwent extensive surgery for the treatment of an intestinal condition that had been causing her severe pain.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Johnson County, alleges that Pearson's legs were held up by stirrup strips in a highly elevated position for more than 11 hours, allegedly causing her to complain of numbness in her legs and general discomfort. Pearson's attorney claims that the stirrups caused a condition known as compartment syndrome, which led to tissue damage in her legs, the media outlet stated.

According to the National Library of Medicine, compartment syndrome is a "serious condition that involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment," and can lead to significant health problems, such as damage to nerves and muscles and blood-flow problems.

In the days following the surgery, the lower part of Pearson's right leg had to be amputated, while tissue allegedly damaged in the operation had to be taken from the left leg. Now, in order to walk, she must use a prosthetic extension on her right leg and an ankle brace on her left leg for the rest of her life, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by Pearson's mother in 2009, alleged that medical personnel at UIHC were negligent, and provided "incomplete, inadequate and inappropriate medical and hospital treatment." The complaint also alleged that healthcare providers at UIHC did not take proper precaution in preventing the leg injury during the surgery, and failed to diagnose and treat compartment syndrome before its devastating effects were irreversible, the Tribune stated.

Pearson's family sought damages for the loss of leg function, past and future pain and suffering, pending medical expenses and the loss of earning capacity.

The Iowa Attorney General's office recommended a settlement be reached before the trial went to court, despite UIHC's denial of the negligence.