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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Simple Blood Test Leaves Georgia Man Paralyzed

ATLANTA (CN)- A routine blood test during a medical exam at a clinic operated by Emory Healthcare left a Covington, Ga., man paralyzed from the chest-down, a lawsuit claims.

Cris Nelson says he was lying on an exam table during a routine wellness exam at Emory Newton Medical Associates when medical assistant Charissa Hurst entered the exam room to draw his blood.

In a lawsuit fled in DeKalb County, Ga., Nelson says that in the moments that followed, Hurst failed to follow well-established procedures for collecting a blood sample.

"[S]pecifically, MA Hurst failed to comply with the applicable standard of care by seating Mr. Nelson upright on the examining table, rather than placing him in an appropriate Venipuncture chair, when it was foreseeable that the blood draw could cause him to faint or become dizzy and fall to the floor," the complaint says. "MA Hurst also failed to comply with the applicable standard of care by failing to take proper precautions to prevent the patient from suffering a serious fall during or after the blood draw."

Nelson lost consciousness and fell off of the table with such a resounding thud that one of Hurst's co-workers, nurse practitioner Carol Walker, heard it from outside of the exam room door and ran in to see what happened.

Walker "found Mr. Nelson lying unconscious on the floor in a prone position, with his face against the floor, bleeding from the head, his arms by his side, and his legs minimally flexed against a trashcan."

Another Emory Newton employee also heard the commotion and entered the exam room.

"Dr. Heath Hampton ... entered the room and examined Mr. Nelson. Dr. Hampton performed a neurological exam and a cervical spine immobilization, with a high suspicion of cervical injury."

Once Nelson regained consciousness, he complained of tingling legs and arms and was transported to Atlanta Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with a broken neck and a spinal cord injury that has now rendered him a C5-8 quadriplegic.

According to The Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta, persons with a spinal cord injury at the C5-8 level are likely to have total paralysis of wrists, hands, trunk and legs.

Nelson and his wife sued Emory Healthcare Inc., Emory Specialty Associates and Charissa Hurst for negligence and loss of consortium, and asked for a minimum of $10,000 for damages.

He is represented by Lloyd M. Bell of the Bell Law Firm in Atlanta.

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