Woman Passes Out After Drinking Binge and Sues Hospital after Legs Are Amputated

This is an interesting and tragic case of contributory or comparative negligence. Shanna Hiles was celebrating her 20th birthday and got so drunk that she passed out with her legs tucked under her for 12 hours –cutting off blood to her extremities. Both of her legs had to be amputated and she blamed the hospital that made her wait of six hours to be treated as her condition worsened.

Obviously, there is a considerable level of contributory negligence. Under the old contributory negligence rule, Hiles would be barred entirely since any negligence on the part of the plaintiff blocks recovery. Only three jurisdictions still apply this rule. There are two types of comparative negligence jurisdiction. Pure comparative negligence jurisdictions simply reduce the amount of the damages by whatever fault is attributed to the plaintiff. If the plaintiff is 90 percent at fault, she receives ten percent of the award. Pennsylvania uses a modified comparative fault rule where the plaintiff is barred if she is 51% or more at fault, but can recover if 50% or less at fault.

It will come down to that question of the condition and the delay in care. The delays in emergency rooms are a national disgrace. We have seen cases where people have died in emergency rooms and have not been found for hours. However, this condition was pretty far along when she arrived. There may be a collateral issue of a reduction in chances of survival. About 20 states allow patients to recover for lost survivability even if the person was less than likely to survive. The leading case in this “loss of chance” area is Herskovits v Group Health Cooperative. Pennsylvania is one of these states. That could change the equation for comparative negligence since the issue is the lost statistical chance for survival.

She was diagnosed with diagnosed with acute compartment syndrome.

Her lawyers insist that the condition could have been reversed or treated during that period of time at Uniontown Hospital in Pennsylvania.

For the full story, click here and here.

29 thoughts on “Woman Passes Out After Drinking Binge and Sues Hospital after Legs Are Amputated”

  1. Great blog here! Also your website loads up fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  2. In America, we are all paying for everyone else’s healthcare already – through jacked up hospital bills from the hospitals to cover hospital costs from patients who cannot pay their bills. Hospitals openly admit they overcharge in order to compensate their losses from people who don’t pay.

    Hospitals and insurance companies make colossal profits at the expense of affordable healthcare for Americans. Our current system results in huge inefficiencies.

    These inefficiencies would be eliminated if our legislature could work together to set up a system that is NON profit. Why should anyone profit from another person’s misfortune?

    It really IS that simple.

  3. Today, I went to the beach with my children.

    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said
    “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear
    and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this
    is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  4. Here’s a strange one!

    This article from Nov. 29th claims “A two-year-old girl who was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for burn marks on her hands landed up having both legs amputated”.

    Ten days later, they claim they had to do it.

    Are we really to believe that no one was informed that the baby was septic before, or immediately after the operation?

    That poor child.

  5. Athena and Jason, Thanks for the additional medical information. It’s helpful to understand the clinical context of a story like this.

  6. As a physician who worked for many years in the ER, it sounds to me like there may have been negligence. Acute compartment syndrome is a true emergency. If it was suspected that she had this syndrome upon arriving at the ER, she should have been triaged to the head of the line and immediately seen by the ER doc, who should have then made the diagnosis assuming there were some physical signs of the syndrome such a pulselessness and muscle weakness.

    Assuming she could not give a history, the ER cannot be faulted for not triaging her to the front of the line. Nevertheless, by the time the ER doc examined her, he should have recognized that this a true emergency and made arrangements for her to have immediate surgical decompression ASAP and not waste hours sending her to another facility some distance away.

    Now, the best defense would be that even if the ER doc made the right diagnosis immediately upon examining her, it was already too late to save her legs. Apparently, the circulation had be compromised to the lady’s lower legs for at least 12 hours before she was seen in the ER. Muscle necrosis usually starts to set in after 8 hours, so it may have already been too late to do anything other than amputate her legs by the time she was seen by the ER physician.

  7. jhngalt5:

    “It is a shame when any preventable death occurs, but, yes, many (certainly not all) of these people are losers if they grow up in America, but don’t make enough of themselves to afford healthcare.”


    If you believe your self-worth is the same as your net worth (and you obviously do) you have an irreversible handicap indeed. Some of the noblest people I know can’t afford the outrageous premiums charged by the insurance land sharks–and they include teachers, nurses, and even lawyers. Unbridled capitalism may be lucrative, but its morality is debatable. I once thought you an aristocrat; now I think you’re more the robber baron.

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