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medical malpractice

Doctor ordered to pay over €2 million to Spanish gymnast who lost leg

Traumatologist found guilty over diagnosis failure that led to amputation for young elite athlete

Santiago de Compostela

A Spanish trauma specialist will have to pay over €2 million in damages to a young elite gymnast who lost part of her right leg in 2015. Pedro Larrauri, a doctor from the northwestern Spanish city of Vigo, was found guilty of medical malpractice and sentenced to two years in prison and disbarred for four years from the medical profession.

Desirée Vila with her parents and psychologist in 2015. Atlantico.net

He will also have to pay €2,154,685 in damages, all legal fees, and any future expenses caused by his former patient’s disability.

The monetary compensation includes the price of a prosthetic leg with an intelligent knee costing over €1.1 million. The law firm representing Desirée Vila called the ruling “historic.”

Pedro Larrauri was negligent in a “flagrant and inexplicable way”

Vila was 16 years old and about to reach the height of her career as an elite acrobatics gymnast when she suffered a fall during a training session on February 26, 2015, at around 8.55pm.

In 2014 she had taken part in the World Championships, and was in training to compete for a place to represent Spain in the European Championships.

Judge Cristina Martínez Raposo agreed with the accusation’s claim that Larrauri was negligent in a “flagrant and inexplicable way,” despite the fact that he was being kept appraised of his patient’s increasingly alarming symptoms after she was admitted into El Castro Medical Center, where he worked.

Larrauri showed “an absolute and stunning lack of concern about his patient’s fate,” said the judge in the ruling.

Larrauri, who was at home, did not come in to see Vila until 11am the next morning, and until March 1 he failed to perform the early tests that would have revealed the injury to the patient’s popliteal artery.

Vila during a floor exercise prior to her accident.
Vila during a floor exercise prior to her accident.

This condition led to a blood clot in the artery, and to an irreversible ischemia whose only solution was amputation of the leg above the kneecap.

This, despite the fact that Desirée kept complaining about an acute pain that not even the painkillers could reduce, or that other health professionals at the center were warning about the swelling around her leg, even as the latter grew increasingly cold.

The judge found that Larrauri committed a series of negligent acts between February 26 and March 2, when Vila was transferred to a hospital to attempt an emergency surgery procedure to save her leg.

These included failure to perform the early CT scan that would have detected the injury to the popliteal artery. But even when he ordered the test and received the results, it was another 15 hours or more before Vila was transferred to the hospital, where surgeons could no longer reverse the damage.

English version by Susana Urra.

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