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By Gina Tabonares

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Aug. 15) – What was supposed to be a simple treatment for hypertension in 2002 ended up as a lifetime disability for Florencia Lewis.

Lewis filed over the weekend a $10 million medical malpractice lawsuit against Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In a civil case filed in the District Court of Guam, Lewis, through her lawyer, Wayson W.S. Wong, is holding the government hospital’s physicians and health care providers responsible for the permanent injuries she sustained in her left arm and hand.

Based on her complaint, Lewis said that she flew from Guam to Hawaii in August 2002 for treatment at the Army hospital for hypertension.

While at Tripler, Lewis was diagnosed as having right-sided renal artery stenosis.

Two days after, she underwent a right renal artery angiogram. However, because of complications, she underwent a left brachial artery access in her upper left arm for selective stent placement and angioplasty of her right renal artery, according to court records.

Due also to additional problems and complications during those procedures, Lewis reportedly sustained permanent injuries to the nerves in her left arm and hand, substantial pain and disability, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life, the complainant’s attorney said.

Lewis’ attorney added that Tripler’s physicians and other health care providers failed to obtain Lewis’ informed consent to the procedures that caused her permanent damages.

"A reasonable person in Mrs. Lewis’ circumstances would not have consented to the proposed procedure had the required information been given to her. That failure to obtain her informed consent has been a legal cause of her injuries and related damages," Wong said.

According to Wong, Lewis has exhausted administrative remedies last year and filed claims for personal injury against the federal government on Aug. 10, 2004, but the government has failed to take final administrative action either through a written denial or final settlement.

Wong said that based on the Federal Tort Claims Act, the suit is timely filed after expiration of the six-month statutory period allowed for the administrative review of Lewis’ claims.

Monday, August 15, 2005

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