This Latin girl had knee surgery to do gymnastics but a double medical error caused irreversible brain damage

A routine operation to relieve acute knee pain for a 10-year-old Latina girl turned into a nightmare for a family from Barcelona (Spain), who now must not only deal with the brain damage the little girl suffered during that procedure, but also with other effects caused in a subsequent review.

Nabila Jaimes, a Venezuelan immigrant and Emily’s mother, sued the Vall d’Hebron hospital for medical negligence for twice administering to her daughter an anesthesia that in 2017 was contraindicated in minors with allergies to nuts, according to the newspaper El País.

The judge in charge of the case ruled in favor of the family, granting compensation of three million dollars (2.72 million euros) considering that the doctors had incurred “recklessness” by twice providing a contraindicated drug for patients like Emily. . The Catalan Health Institute, the public company in charge of the hospital, and the Zurich insurer appealed the ruling.

Emily had suffered from her knee since she was 6 years old and therapists had recommended exercise to relieve certain symptoms. She “loved rhythmic gymnastics, she didn’t stop doing all kinds of acrobatics,” her mother remembers. This is how she tore her meniscus, which caused her great pain and led to surgery.

The first time Emily received a dose of profopol, the anesthetic medication that doctors prescribed for meniscus surgery in her left knee, her body reacted with “an episode of hypotension lasting about 10 minutes, with the onset of metabolic acidosis.” ”according to the court complaint.

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The doctors managed to reverse that episode, which can cause death, and completed the knee operation. But when she woke up from the effects of the anesthesia, Emily’s family noticed something was wrong.

When her father put a Rubik’s puzzle cube in her hands, which he had promised her as a prize after the operation, she did not react. “She had a lost look and her mouth open. She was like gone, turned off,” her mother remembers in the interview with El País.

The doctors explained to the family that the girl could be suffering from the side effects of the sedative. But after three days she showed no signs of improvement, so the doctors decided to do studies in order to determine the cause of her condition.

Again, to undergo an MRI, they sedated Emily with propofol, the anesthesia contraindicated for children under 16 years of age who are allergic to nuts like Emily, who had also already shown an adverse effect to the drug during the surgical operation.

Her mother assures that she may believe that the first dose of profopol given to her daughter was “a misfortune or an accident,” but she does not understand how the doctors administered it again: “They did not notify each other of what had happened , If not, I can not understand it”.

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Far from improving with studies, Emily’s condition worsened “suddenly, with severe alterations in the level of consciousness,” according to the lawsuit. By the end of 2017, about eight months after the initial knee operation, the girl was diagnosed “with a degree of disability of 84% due to multiple mental and physical disabilities,” an irreversible condition, according to El País.

The judge determined that the doctors had been “not very prudent in giving profopol to an allergic girl” in the first operation, according to the medical manuals in force in 2017. Having done it a second time, when there had already been “a very serious adverse reaction such as “it’s metabolic acidosis,” it was “reckless.”