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FORMER PATIENT WINS AMPUTATION SUIT

A Mayville jury Friday ordered Jamestown's WCA Hospital and a physician to pay Douglas Harlow of Falconer $20.2 million for the emergency amputation of both his legs just days after he came in for treatment of stomach pains four years ago.

Following a weeklong trial before State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Gerace, the jury of four women and two men deliberated about 4 1/2 hours before ordering the hospital and Dr. Eleanor Stirniman to compensate the Harlow, 56, for a misdiagnosis.

Attorneys Richard A. Hickey of Amherst and Brian York of Jamestown, who represented Harlow, said he arrived at the hospital's emergency room with stomach pains at about 10 a.m. Oct. 5, 1996.

Because Harlow said he had a kidney stone attack in 1968, Stirniman, without ordering laboratory tests or X-rays, ordered him to get IV fluids and pain killers in the mistaken belief that would pass the stones, the attorneys said.

As Harlow was about to be discharged at 4 p.m. that day, he collapsed in the emergency room and passed out, prompting emergency surgery to repair the leaking aortic-abdominal aneurism, which belatedly was found to be causing his pain, his attorneys said.

Because the delayed diagnosis led to internal bleeding and loss of about 20 percent of Harlow's blood supply, primarily affecting the circulation in his legs, three days later WCA surgeons were forced to amputate both his legs above the knees, Hickey and York said.

Harlow, an electrician by trade, was given a desk job at Cummins Engine Co. within weeks of the hospital mishap.

Attorneys for the doctor and hospital were unavailable to comment.

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