41-year-old Jose Polanco ended up losing his hand and portion of his arm after medical staff at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens mistakenly placed a needle in his arm for blood pressure testing. The Queens man had initially suffered a heart attack last year and was admitted to the hospital. During his recovery, he began developing pneumonia which later led to a serious infection. Doctors requested that a line is inserted into Polanco’s arm to provide ongoing monitoring of his blood pressure. Apparently, the line was placed improperly in the arm and he said that his arm turned black. WCBS 880 reporter interviewed him and noted that he had two wounds in the area of the biceps, which his attorney Sanford Rubenstein alleges brought about gangrene.
Gangrene is a condition that occurs when a region of the body lacks adequate blood flow, which deprives the region of oxygen and causes the tissue to die. The problem may be either internal or external and most commonly occurs in the extremities. Polanco recalls losing a significant amount of blood from the puncture wounds. He says doctors became concerned as the arm became increasingly worse and said he was told a nurse punctured the arm in the wrong place. He was treated as an inpatient during December and in May it became necessary to partially amputate the arm.
Polanco had been working as a parking attendant prior to this development but has been unable to work since then. His medical malpractice claim seeks a judgment of $100 million. In the meanwhile, he is trying to adjust to using exclusively his left hand and also has a young daughter to care for. His attorney expressed disbelief in how pneumonia developed and led to ultimately losing an arm. A hospital spokesperson declined to comment and said they are awaiting the formal notice of the claim.
This malpractice lawsuit is another concern among many problems within the hospital system. In 2016, the chief executive of the NYC Health and Hospitals resigned. The organization manages the public hospitals in New York, which is the largest such city health system in the country. Dr. Ramanathan Raju left the organization amid an announcement by Mayor Bill DeBlasio that overhauling the system was necessary. The organization consists of 11 hospitals and faces sizable financial problems. Their last financial report indicated that the budget was approximately $7 billion and that they needed $500 million from New York City to sustain operations.
In fact, the projection for the year 2020 shows that the city may need to provide $2 billion in funding to counter reductions in funds from the federal and state governments. Apparently, the facilities are incurring losses from treating large quantities of patients that lack health insurance. In addition, the system began operating the medical services for the Rikers Island Correctional Facilities, a further hindrance to their operations.