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An Ohio University student whose arm had to be amputated after doctors at the university’s health center allegedly misdiagnosed her case is seeking several million dollars in damages from the school. The medical malpractice case is expected to go to trial in April.

On Jan. 26, 2012, her attorneys filed an Ohio Court of Claims motion asking the judge hearing her case to rule the girl’s loss of a limb is a “catastrophic loss.” In malpractice cases, Ohio law allows people who have suffered a catastrophic loss to ask for millions of dollars in non-economic damages.

In September 2007, the girl’s arm became infected with a rare flesh-eating bacterium known at necrotizing fasciitis and doctors had to amputate it to save her life. She visited the university’s health clinic for students, then known as the Hudson Health Center, multiple times. However, doctors there allegedly failed to diagnose her illness properly.

During her visits to the Hudson Health Center, the girl told doctors she had severe pain, fever and nausea, according to court filings. The doctors allegedly said she was suffering from a sore throat, muscle pain and anxiety. Medical staff allegedly ignored her as she insisted something was very wrong with her.

Eventually, the girl called her father who took her to a local emergency room. While she was waiting for him to arrive, she allegedly asked a nurse at the clinic if she should go to the local emergency room. The nurse allegedly told her the hospital would not treat her any differently, according to court filings.

When her father got her to the local hospital, doctors there took x-rays of her arm and determined she had necrotizing fasciitis. They immediately had her flown to a Columbus, Ohio hospital where doctors had to remove her arm to keep the bacterium from spreading to her vital organs.

Attorneys for OU say necrotizing fasciitis is extremely rare, and the Hudson Health Clinic staff is not incompetent for failing to recognize it. Expert witnesses have testified the infection is almost never found in healthy young people unless they have a condition such as colon cancer, diabetes or intravenous drug use.

Source: The Athens News, “Attorneys for student who lost arm seek big damages from OU,” Jim Phillips, Jan. 29, 2012