Shocking Medical Error: Athlete Loses Thumb, Toe

Britney Thomas had surgery to repair a fracture that split a bone in her hand. Doctors mistakenly left a tourniquet cutting off blood flow to the thumb underneath her cast. (Screen image via Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Sep 11, 2019 |

The Washington Post – After Britney Thomas, a 17-year-old Australian cricket player, fractured her thumb during a game, doctors reassured her that a simple surgery and a short recovery in a hard plaster cast would soon have her back on the pitch.

So Thomas expected a routine procedure at a medical center about two hours from Melbourne.

After repairing the bone, doctors sent her home.

Six days later she was back in excruciating pain, and when the doctor peeled off her cast, she was horrified to see a totally dead thumb.

She’d soon learn that because of an error by the hospital, the thumb would need to be amputated — and replaced with her toe.

The shocking mishap was first reported this week by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Doctors at other area hospitals have ignored necrotic infections and misplaced breathing tubes, leaving patients severely disabled or even dead, the channel reported. The series has spurred several regional hospitals to publicly account for shortcomings.

Thomas’s gruesome case came after she played in a cricket match in Hong Kong in late March 2018, when she split a bone in her left thumb. An orthopedic surgeon corrected the fracture in a routine surgery, then set the injury in a plaster cast.

When the teen returned days later with intense pain in her hand, the doctor found her thumb was swollen and dark purple. The problem was obvious: It was still bound with an elastic tourniquet mistakenly left in place after the surgery.

“They pulled the plaster off and it was very dark, looked very dead,” Leanne Keating, Thomas’s mother, told a reporter the ABC. Read more.