Court denies VA's request for summary judgment in medical malpractice suit

By Takesha Thomas | May 6, 2019

ST. LOUIS – A federal court has denied a summary judgment request by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in a medical malpractice suit filed by a man who alleged he was injured by a nurse who incorrectly inserted an intravenous needle.

On April 25, U.S. Magistrate Judge Abbie Crites-Leoni denied the VA's motion for summary judgment in a case involving Alan McQueen. 

Crites-Leoni found that the VA failed to meet its burden "to establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on McQueen’s complaint." 

McQueen filed a medical malpractice suit against the VA and the United States of America under the Federal Tort Claims Act after he allegedly sustained an injury to his left hand while receiving medical treatment.

According to the ruling, in November 2014, McQueen visited the urgent care clinic at John J. Pershing Veteran Administration Medical Center in Poplar Bluff for treatment after being stung by a wasp. He alleges that a nurse for the VA Hospital incorrectly inserted an intravenous needle into his left hand. As a result, in July 2016 he underwent surgery for a "mass on the dorsal side of his left hand," the ruling states.

The VA contended that McQueen failed to establish his case, adding that McQueen’s own expert medical witness "support(s) that McQueen’s alleged injuries were not related to the IV needle stick."

The court, however, ruled that the VA failed to establish that the "expert witnesses did not find that all of McQueen’s claimed injuries were unrelated to the attempted IV placement." 

"It is true that, in other portions of their testimony, both experts indicated that they could not find to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the soft tissue mass or metacarpal bossing for which McQueen underwent surgery was caused by the IV needle stick," Crites-Leoni wrote. 

However, "neither expert expressed the opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that none of McQueen’s claimed injuries were caused by the attempted IV placement," she wrote.

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