Compensation Claims for Negligent Burns Treatment Resolved in Court

Two compensation claims for negligent burns treatment at a Philadelphia hospital have been resolved after a hearing at the Court of Common Pleas.

Antonio Crespo and Edward Torralvo were working at one of the latter´s rental projects in June 2011, when both men suffered burns to their fingers from handling hydrofluoric acid while cleaning bricks. Antonio and Edward waited until the following day before attending the emergency room at the Temple University Hospital, where they were treated by the hospital´s burns specialist Dr. William Hughes and resident consultant Theresa Pagana.

The two men had injections of lidocaine and calcium gluconate directly into their fingers and were given nerve blocks. However, the treatment failed to work and resulted in both men experiencing more pain in the fingers. When Antonio returned to the hospital two days later with swollen and discolored fingers, one doctor likened his condition to frostbite and, in July, he was treated for gangrene and had the tips of his left index and middle finger amputated.

Edward also had to undergo drastic treatment to resolve the pain in his fingers and still suffers from tingling and numbness. Antonio still has extreme sensitivity on the top of his amputated middle finger and may have to undergo further surgery.

After seeking legal advice, both men made compensation claims for negligent burns treatment against the Temple University Hospital, Dr. Hughes, and Theresa Pagana, alleging that the treatment they received should never have been administered by injection. They supported their claims with expert evidence that the injections could have prevented the blood flow in their fingers and hindered the drugs´ effectiveness.

Liability in the compensation claims for negligent burns treatment was denied by the defendants. Their defense was that the injections were necessary because the two men had waited too long before seeking medical treatment and the recommended course of action – the administration of calcium gluconate in the form of a gel massaged into the fingers – would not have worked so long after exposure to the acid.

The compensation claims for negligent burns treatment went to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. It was heard by a jury before Judge Karen Shreeves-John, who – at the end of an eight-day hearing – found in Antonio´s and Edward´s favor. The jury awarded Antonio – who was an aspiring musician – more than $4.5 million compensation for the avoidable amputation of his fingertips, and Edward $500,000 for the nerve damage he had sustained due to medical negligence.