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20 Mar, 2009 07:28

Boy blames ‘dodgy doc’ for losing arm

The family of a teenager who lost his arm because of what they claim is a surgeon’s negligence, is now fighting for compensation. They say doctors failed to take proper care of the boy when he broke his arm.

A few weeks ago Miroslav Vinogradov fell from his bike and broke his right forearm. The boy was immediately taken to hospital in his hometown of Novosibirsk, in Russia’s Siberia.

“It happened on a Friday. Doctors told me to stay in the ward over the weekend. They told me they would do the surgery on Monday. Not a single doctor looked at me in those two days. On Monday they removed the plaster and found out that most of the tissue in my arm was dead,” remembers Miroslav.

A simple fracture had turned gangrenous. Miroslav’s arm had to be amputated. The doctor’s decision shocked the family.

His mother Elena says, “We were told that it was merely a coincidence; that the arm could not have been saved and that such an outcome was impossible to predict.”

But after some research of their own, Miroslav’s parents discovered they had been misled.

“We learnt that anaerobic infections can happen to anybody. But it needs certain conditions to develop. And in my son’s case, those conditions were created by the doctors,” explained Elena.

Miroslav had developed an anaerobic infection, which is caused by bacteria that grow when there is no oxygen or air.

Elena also later found out that the surgeon who authorised the amputation had been involved in another scandal.

Five years ago, Oksana Kondrashkina went to the same clinic with a dislocated knee. Just like Miroslav, she spent the weekend in hospital. And similarly, gangrene developed.

“I told the doctor that my leg turned blue and my toes were numb. But he said ‘it’s just the way it should be'. During my time on the ward, I wasn’t observed once,” recalls Oksana.

She eventually had her leg amputated and filed a lawsuit against the clinic. Miroslav’s parents are now taking a similar action. The family’s lawyers have no doubt that this is the case of a medical negligence.

“Even if you look this issue up on the internet, it’s clear that a doctor MUST perform additional checks after repositioning fractured bones. It’s to make sure there is no internal bleeding and that tissues are untouched,” says lawyer Yulia Stibikina.

Oksana won 2 million rubles – around $60,000 – in a court action against the clinic. It’s the largest compensation ever paid in Russia for a medical mistake.

Miroslav’s parents are demanding 6 million rubles. They also want to know why the doctor was allowed to continue working at the clinic.

But Miroslav knows money won’t bring his arm back and he’s unlikely to fulfil his own dreams of becoming a surgeon. Now the teenager’s biggest challenge is learning how to write with his left-hand.