TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Saturday, Aug 23, 2014
Local News

Lawsuit: Nurse cut off baby's finger

By
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 12:29 AM
TAMPA -

The nurse had one last thing to do before Veronica Olguin's baby was discharged from the hospital.

But instead of snipping off the plastic intravenous tube attached to the baby's hand, the scissors severed flesh and bone, Olguin said.

"I looked at her hand, and she didn't have her finger anymore," Olguin, 15, said about her now 8-month-old daughter Selena. "I started screaming, 'Her finger! Her finger!' The nurse was saying, 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it.' "

The nurse, Emily Anna Stutz, had accidentally snipped off half of Selena's left-hand pinky finger, which then fell to the floor, Olguin said.

The baby, who was 3 months old at the time, started wailing and "blood squirted everywhere," Olguin, of Haines City, said. "On her shirt, on my shirt, on my face."

Stutz then threw the scissors down and "rushed out of the room screaming" while doctors at Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Polk County ran in to try to save Selena's finger, Olguin said.

They were not successful.

"The nerves were too delicate," said Lou Pendas, Olguin's Tampa-based attorney. "The veins were too small."

Olguin is suing the nurse and the hospital for negligence. The complaint, filed recently in Polk County Circuit Court, claims Stutz was negligent in trying to remove the tube with scissors and failed to properly follow safety procedures, that the hospital failed to train its employees on the proper use of scissors when removing intravenous tubes and that the hospital did not supervise the nurse properly.

Olguin is seeking damages of more than $15,000.

Pendas said he and his client had no choice but to file a lawsuit because the hospital has not responded to his requests to try to settle the matter out of court.

"What we want here is to make sure this doesn't happen to any other child," Pendas said.

Hospital officials said in a statement that Stutz is "an experienced nurse" who was removing bandages wrapped around an intravenous tube near the tip of the baby's finger when the "unfortunate accident" happened.

"We deeply regret the harm to the child and want to reiterate our compassion and concern for her and her family," hospital officials said. "We reached out right away to the child's family and their attorney, but have not been able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution."

Pendas said Stutz's attorney, Richard Ford of Orlando, told him the nurse was distraught days after the incident and took time off from work.

Ford said that Stutz is still employed at the hospital.

Olguin said she took Selena to Heart of Florida on Oct. 9 because her daughter was suffering from a fever. The baby stayed at the hospital for two days.

Other than missing half of a finger, the baby is doing fine, Olguin said. But she worries that Selena may grow up thinking something is wrong with her.

"She was born so perfect and they just cut off her finger," Olguin said. "And now she has only nine fingers. That's really hard. It's really going to hurt when she asks, 'Mom, what happened to my finger?' "


rreyes@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7920
Comments