Photo courtesy of Cronin Maxwell, P.L.

Lawsuit alleges Naval Hospital Jacksonville left needle in a new mom's spine — and covered it up

December 12, 2018 - 11:17 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Cronin & Maxwell filed a lawsuit against the federal government today in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging Naval Hospital Jacksonville made a mistake, covered it up and left three centimeters of a broken needle in a mother’s lower back during a C-section 15 years ago.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Amy Bright and her husband, Navy veteran Charles Bright, of De Soto, Illinois. It alleges they were not told that during attempted spinal anesthesia, a large piece of the needle broke off into Bright’s L4 vertebrae, where it remains stuck. Despite years of medical treatment for leg and back pain, the 42-year-old mother of six didn’t discover the needle until a CT scan last year.

Since delivering her son in 2003, Bright has chronic pain from the permanent nerve injury caused by the broken needle. The needle is touching the nerve that leads to her left leg, resulting in a severe nerve injury which causes radiating pain and numbness in her lower back, left hip and left foot. Her pain has worsened over time, making it difficult to sit or exercise because the needle inflames the nerve when she moves.

“To have other military personnel do this to me and not say or do anything is appalling,” said Amy Bright. “I’m a military wife – we keep everyone together while our loved ones are fighting for our country. It really hurts to have the error swept under the rug and the government ignore my situation. They’ve shown me no compassion.”

“It is a cowardly unethical cover-up,” said Sean B. Cronin, the Brights’ attorney. “This is the most outrageous case of medical malpractice I’ve ever seen. There was a golden window of opportunity to surgically remove the needle. By failing to tell Mrs. Bright about it or record it in her medical records, the medical staff sentenced her to a lifetime of pain. Surgery now is too risky because it could destabilize her spine, worsen the nerve damage or paralyze her.”

The lawsuit contends Naval Hospital medical staff improperly broke off the spinal anesthesia needle into Bright’s L4 vertebrae. It was supposed to enter her spinal canal where the medication is administered. Instead, the needle was forcefully pushed too far - through the spinal canal and became deeply embedded into her lower back where it broke off and remains trapped.

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