‘It feels like fire:’ Hospital left broken needle in woman’s spine for 14 years, she says

A woman has filed a federal claim against a Jacksonville, Florida, naval hospital after she says staff left a broken needle in her spine 14 years ago as she delivered her son.
A woman has filed a federal claim against a Jacksonville, Florida, naval hospital after she says staff left a broken needle in her spine 14 years ago as she delivered her son. Screenshot from News4Jax

Shortly after giving birth to her son at a Florida naval hospital, the excruciating pain set in.

“It feels like fire, like a poker next to my tailbone,” Amy Bright told First Coast News, describing the debilitating symptoms that cropped up following her 2003 C-section at Naval Hospital Jacksonville. “And then on occasion, it shoots down the left side of my leg on my calf... and then down and into my foot.”

Fourteen years later, Bright said she learned what was causing her constant, severe pain: There was a broken-off needle lodged in her spine, according to a claim she’s filed against the federal government. A CT scan several months ago in Texas, where Bright now lives, revealed a roughly inch-long needle fragment. It was jutting out of her spine, stuck most of the way into a bone, leaving Bright with lasting nerve damage, the Army Times reports.

Bright and her attorney said the hospital must have known the needle broke off in Bright’s spine, but chose not to tell her, First Coast News reports.

“It’s documented in her medical records that they had an unsuccessful spinal needle attempt at Naval Hospital Jacksonville in September of 2003,” Bright’s attorney, Sean Cronin, told the TV station. “So no one else put a needle in her back.”

But for years, Bright was misdiagnosed and suffered through pain, never knowing the real cause, she said.

“If they were any kind of human whatsoever, they would’ve said, ‘Hey, I’m sorry I made a huge mistake, let’s fix it,’ ” Bright told First Coast News. “But instead they didn’t tell me.”

Now that the broken needle has been in her body so long, doctors have told Bright that operating to remove it would be dangerous, according to the Army Times.

Bright’s claim alleges medical malpractice, fraud and negligent concealment by the hospital staff who worked with her at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, according to the Army Times. Bright’s husband is a retired Navy chief hospital corpsman, which is why she was treated at the hospital on the base.

Anesthesia was administered to Bright prior to the Sept. 5, 2013, C-section, CBS 47 reports. But according to Bright’s claim against the government, hospital staff didn’t put the needle in correctly — breaking it off and leaving it stuck in her spine.

“I was so mad that they hid this from me,” Bright told CBS.

A judge will decide if Bright is entitled to damages in the case, her lawyer told the TV station.

But if there’s no settlement reached, Bright and her lawyer plan to file a lawsuit, First Coast News reports.

“The needle is actually touching the nerve that leads to my left leg, so imagine going through the day, walking down the road not knowing if you're going to fall,” Bright told News4Jax. “What happens if that needle just cuts or moves a little bit? I could be paralyzed.”

The hospital declined to comment to News4Jax and other local media, citing the ongoing legal issue.

The same hospital was in the news in September 2017 after a photo of a nurse there giving the middle finger to a newborn went viral on Facebook, McClatchy reported. The photo had the caption: “How I currently feel about these mini Satans.”

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