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CORSON v. UNITED STATES

September 16, 1969

Harry B. CORSON
v.
UNITED STATES of America



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MASTERSON

 MASTERSON, District Judge.

 This is an action brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq., wherein the plaintiff claims that the government is liable for damages caused by the allegedly negligent insertion and removal of an intracath tube from his arm while the plaintiff was a patient at a Veteran's Administration Hospital for the purpose of undergoing surgery for a gall bladder condition. Additionally, the plaintiff claims that the government is liable for the allegedly negligent post-operative treatment given to the arm. After a trial without a jury, upon pleadings and proof, this Court makes the following:

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 (1) The plaintiff, Harry B. Corson, was, at the time of the operation, 41 years old, married and had three children. He had been employed since May 20, 1964, by Mr. T. A. Smith, Jr., who was an industrial painting contractor. Before entering the hospital, the plaintiff was earning $4.025 an hour ($.17 1/2 of which represented welfare payments).

 (2) The plaintiff was admitted to the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 1, 1964, complaining of severe abdominal pain and vomiting. There was nothing wrong with his left arm or hand.

 (3) The medical staff at the Veteran's Administration Hospital diagnosed the plaintiff's complaints as resulting from the poor functioning of his gall bladder.

 (4) An operation to remedy this condition was performed on October 21, 1964. The surgical team was headed by Dr. David B. Lucchino, to be assisted by Dr. Oscar Serlin and Dr. Jerome I. Cohen. Miss Olga Capetanidis and Mr. William Connell were the nurse anesthetists. Miss Helen Williams was the surgical nurse and Miss Mildred Ellis was the instrument nurse. All of the above were employees of the Veteran's Administration Hospital.

 (5) Since it was necessary for the gall bladder operation that a catheter be inserted in the plaintiff's left arm, the plaintiff was brought to be anesthetized. Beginning at 8:20 A.M., the plaintiff was put under the effect of a "light" anesthesia by Miss Capetanidis.

 (6) In this "light" state, the plaintiff "bucked" when a tube was placed down his throat.

 (7) Mr. Connell, who was to insert the catheter, was unaware of the plaintiff's reaction to the intubation and was not so advised by Miss Capetanidis.

 (8) Had he known that the plaintiff had "bucked" upon intubation, thus alerting him to the fact that the patient was under a "light" anesthesia, Mr. Connell would have inserted the intracath differently and would have taken more precautions to prevent the plaintiff from moving while the intracath was being inserted.

 (9) A tourniquet was placed slightly below the plaintiff's elbow to allow the veins in his arm to become prominent. Mr. Connell then firmly grasped the plaintiff's left hand, bending it at the wrist to obtain a favorable angle, and began to insert a #14 gauge metal needle into a vein on the back of the left hand. A minimum of back flow of blood was noted.

 (10) Thereafter, the polyethylene catheter was inserted through the inside sleeve of the needle. The intravenous flow was then hooked up but would not drip. At this ...


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