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Fillmore woman sues Intermountain Healthcare over amputated hand

Published: Wednesday, April 18 2012 3:46 p.m. MDT

PROVO — A Fillmore woman who had to have her right hand amputated after being treated for pneumonia at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center has filed a lawsuit against the Intermountain Healthcare hospital chain.

The suit alleges that an arterial line inserted in the woman's right hand cut off circulation and was left for more than four hours. After doctors were unsuccessful at restoring circulation to the hand, it had to be amputated below the elbow.

On Feb. 20, 2010, Constance Gillins suffered chills, aches, coughing to the point of vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy that worsened over two days, according to the lawsuit. At Fillmore Community Medical Center, Gillins was diagnosed with pneumonia in her right lung and was flown by helicopter to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.

The suit alleges that UVRMC medical personnel "deviated from the standard of care" by failing to conduct a blood flow test indicated in Gillins' semiconscious condition when an arterial line was inserted into her dominant right hand.

The suit filed in 3rd District Court also alleges medical personnel failed to notify doctors of the hand's declining vascular status and failed to remove the arterial line in a timely manner.

At 3 a.m. on Feb. 21, 2010, a nurse recorded that Gillins' hand was "cool, purple, mottled," and a later record states that at 5 a.m. the arterial line was removed because it "seemed to be cutting circulation to hand," according to the lawsuit.

Surgical interventions were conducted over the next two days to restore circulation to the hand and Gillins was transferred to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray where her hand tissue was determined to be dead and it was amputated.

The suit asks for damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

"Intermountain Healthcare has not yet received any notice or documentation of this filing, so we cannot provide a statement at this time," Intermountain spokesman Daron Cowley said Wednesday.

E-mail: lbrubaker@desnews.com

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