U of A hospital doctors sued for alleged mistake that resulted in arm amputation

Former CBC Edmonton cameraman Patrick Knowles has filed a $1.8-million lawsuit against several doctors and staff at the University of Alberta Hospital related to the amputation of his left arm following a single-vehicle accident in May 2016.

It is not known how Knowles came to crash his vehicle in a ditch near Lac La Biche on May 12, 2016. He had been on assignment the day before covering the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation at the time.

Knowles was found unconscious in the vehicle by RCMP and remained in a coma for several weeks.

The lawsuit alleges the left elbow of Knowles underwent extensive testing after he was admitted to the U of A hospital, including an X-ray and a computed tomography or CT scan.

The X-ray revealed Knowles’s left elbow was dislocated and the CT scan “revealed the presence of an arterial occlusion (blockage) in the left forearm,” the lawsuit states.

After the CT scan on May 12, the attending physician arranged a consultation with a vascular surgeon in relation to the arterial blockage.

The specialist “recommended that no intervention be performed at that point in time. No formal documentation of the consultation was created and no plan for follow-up care in relation to Mr. Knowles was created,” the lawsuit says.

Delayed diagnosis alleged

Orthopedic surgeons were also consulted. Although the arterial blockage was noted, Knowles’s left arm was placed in a splint and it was recommended that it be reassessed in two weeks, the lawsuit alleges.

On May 18, 2016, the splint was removed and, according to the lawsuit, it was discovered that the muscles in Knowles’s left forearm had developed “compartment syndrome,” a condition in which the muscles swell so much that blood flow is restricted.

Several surgeries were immediately performed in an attempt to increase blood flow to the arm “however it was ultimately determined his left forearm could not be saved.”

“As a result of the negligence of the Defendants, Mr. Knowles developed compartment syndrome in his left forearm, and suffered a delay in the diagnosis of compartment syndrome in his left forearm,” the lawsuit states.

“As a result of the development of compartment syndrome and the subsequent delay in diagnosis, Mr. Knowles required a left arm below-elbow amputation.”

Knowles is seeking more than $1.8 million in damages, including for loss of earning capacity, and medical and care expenses.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit has been proven in court and no statement of defence has yet been filed.

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