October 4, 2012

On October 2, 2012, an Army veteran who served during the late 1960s filed a federal medical malpractice case in the federal district court in Kentucky as a result of the alleged medical negligence of a Veterans Administration nurse following surgery on his penis. The surgery that was done in a Veterans Administration hospital in Lexington, Kentucky during late October, 2010 involved circumcision and the surgical placement of a penile implant.

Following the surgery, ice was placed on the man’s groin to reduce swelling and to help with pain. While it is not uncommon to have ice packs placed on or near the surgical site after surgery, ice packs are rarely used continuously for more than two to three hours at a time. The man’s nurse allegedly failed to follow protocol and kept ice on the man’s groin for nineteen hours straight.

According to the federal medical malpractice claim, the use of ice packs for such a long, continuous period of time caused the man’s penis to suffer frostbite and to become gangrenous over the period of a few weeks. The gangrene resulted in the man having to have five inches of his penis surgically amputated in order to save his life. The removal of five inches of his penis has caused the man to have problems with urinating, which will require further surgery to address and correct the problem.

As required by federal law, the man’s claim was initially filed with the Veterans Administration under the Federal Tort Claims Act (no medical malpractice or other civil lawsuit may be filed in the federal courts regarding negligent acts or omissions of federal employees acting within the scope of their federal employment unless and until the claim is filed with the appropriate federal agency within two years of the injury and the claim is denied by the federal agency or six months have expired and the federal agency has not acted on the claim – if the federal agency denies the claim, a civil lawsuit must be filed in the appropriate federal district court within six months of the denial after which the relevant state law with regard to the underlying cause of action will be applied by a federal judge (trial by jury is not available under the Federal Tort Claims Act)).

The Kentucky vet’s administrative tort claim was denied by the Veterans Administration in July, 2012, which the VA said did not involve negligence.


If you, a family member, a loved one, or someone you know may have been injured by medical malpractice in the United States or as a result of the negligent actions or omissions of a federal employee, you should promptly arrange to speak with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may be willing to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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