Negligent wound treatment leads to sepsis, brain damage

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Case in Point

September 18, 2012

Negligent wound treatment leads to sepsis, brain damage 

Suit alleged that a nurse practitioner at an emergency room stitched a child’s knee wound too tightly and failed to adequately clean and debride it, resulting in necrotizing fasciitis and multiple surgeries that led to sepsis and severe brain damage. The jury awarded $8.7 million. Reynolds v. Criswell.

Jonathan Reynolds, 12, was playing laser tag at a facility built and operated by David Criswell. While in an obstacle course, Reynolds fell on an exposed nail head and severely lacerated his right knee. He went to Dyersburg Regional Medical Center’s emergency room, where nurse practitioner Alan Hopkins sutured his knee and applied vasoconstrictors. Several days later, Reynolds returned to the hospital and was diagnosed as having necrotizing fasciitis. He required multiple operations and developed seizures, sepsis, and high fevers that led to severe brain damage.

Reynolds’s parents, individually and on his behalf, sued Hopkins, alleging that he had stitched the wound too tightly and failed to properly treat the injury by adequately cleaning and debriding it. The plaintiffs also asserted that the hospital and Hopkins’s supervising physician were liable for the physician’s breach of hospital bylaws mandating physician oversight of patients with complex lacerations.

Suit against Criswell alleged premises liability.

The medical negligence defendants settled confidentially. The jury awarded $8.7 million, apportioning liability at 47 percent to the hospital, 20 percent each to the doctor and nurse practitioner, and 13 percent to Criswell.

Citation: Reynolds v. Criswell, No. 04-142 (Tenn., Dyer Co. Cir. Aug. 3, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member J. Houston Gordon and Amber Griffen Shaw, both of Covington, Tenn.

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