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Outrageous report: Routine VA procedure turns into amputated leg for veteran after 10 inches of plastic left in artery

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
September 08, 2017

The Memphis VA Medical Center botched a veteran’s surgery and found that it had mistakenly embedded a 10-inch piece of plastic packaging in an artery in the veteran’s leg, which the veteran later had to have amputated as a result, according to medical reports obtained by USA Today.

A recent report from USA Today revealed that this was one of many issues at the Memphis VA, and is why the hospital is considered one of the worst of the 168 VA hospitals in the U.S.

The 2016 incident with the aforementioned veteran was one of the issues that USA Today revealed after obtaining medical documents.

The veteran had diabetes and poor circulation, and went to the Memphis VA for a routine scan, USA Today reported. However, the Memphis VA ended up accidentally inserting a 10-inch piece of plastic packaging into a critical artery in the veteran’s leg.

The tubing was discovered when the veteran had to have the leg amputated about three weeks later; doctors found 3 inches of plastic when they initially cut into the veteran’s leg, and then found another 7 inches of plastic in the amputated limb, the VA reported, according to USA Today.

“An internal report says VA clinicians inserted a catheter into an artery that supplied blood to the veteran’s right foot but could not get it past a narrowed portion of the vessel. They pulled it out and administered medications to try and lessen any blockages,” USA Today reported. “What they didn’t realize is that they had not removed plastic packaging on the catheter before inserting it. And the packaging stayed in his leg.”

“An investigation found that after the procedure he had lost complete blood flow through the artery. The amputation came 22 days later,” USA Today reported.

A former logistics technician at the Memphis VA, Sean Higgins, described the hospital as “a house of horrors,” USA Today reported.

Considering how outrageous this report is, a 2015 tweet that then-humorously depicted almost the same scenario is harshly ironic: “Maverick retires from navy as a Captain. During ‘routine’ knee surgery, VA doc mistakenly amputates his left leg.”