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Man seeks millions in malpractice suit from VA hospital

A man who was treated at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, is suing the federal government for $10 million after he claims a nurse caused damage to his groin by improperly applying ice packs.

The hospital malpractice suit stems from an incident in which the man entered the VA hospital for medically necessary surgery to his genitals. After the surgery, a nurse continued to apply icepacks to the surgical site for 19 hours. This treatment resulted in frostbite that led to gangrene, according to the complaint, and eventually led to a partial amputation of the patient's genitals that will require reconstructive surgery to correct.

Representatives for the man say their lawsuit is not frivolous. A little frostbite would not normally be cause for a lawsuit, they say, but the scope of the damage and seriousness of the effects mean that the man's life has been changed in a profound and irreversible way.

The man first attempted to file a compensation claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. A provision of this act prevents a claimant from suing until the claim is resolved. His claim was rejected in July with a response that indicated that, in the opinion of the agency, there was "no negligence" on the part of the VA Hospital's staff. The man then pursued relief through the civil court, filing his claim last week for damages including pain and suffering.

A personal injury attorney can evaluate any claim for medical malpractice. The failure of a surgery or treatment is not always grounds for a lawsuit, but blatant malpractice may be. If it can be shown that a healthcare professional acted outside the scope of accepted medical treatment, a malpractice case may be feasible.

Source: Fox News, "Kentucky man says VA treatment caused frostbitten penis," Oct. 2, 2012

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