JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman who has been living with part of an epidural needle in her spine for the last 14 years is suing Naval Hospital Jacksonville.
Amy Bright didn't know until November that the needle was there, but has known something was wrong over the years.
Bright's husband is a retired Navy pilot and they were based at NAS Jacksonville when she had a planned C-section at the hospital in September 2003. She said about 3 centimeters -- just over an inch -- of the needle broke off, but she didn't know it was there until it showed up in CT scan late last year.
"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 said. "What happens if that needle just cuts or moves a little bit? I could be paralyzed."
Bright said doctors told her it's too risky to remove the needle, so she must live with it. She’ll forever be on medications for the pain.
Bright's attorney, Sean Cronin, has handled many malpractice cases. He said he's never seen anything like this.
"I do this all the time. I've had people who've had injuries from needles. I've never seen a piece of needle that's broken off and left in someone’s spine," Cronin said. "This is literally in the spinal canal. never seen it. Never heard of it. It's outrageous."
"I have metal in my back now for the rest of my life. We're all going to age. It's going to get worse from here, and now I won't be able to have a diagnosis from an MRI," Bright said. "It's just devastating. It's absolutely wrong. Who doesn't tell you? Who does that?"
That pregnancy in 2003 was her last. She’s so thankful her son, Jacob, is now a healthy teenager.
The government has six months to respond to the claim and a federal judge will decide if an award is appropriate for Bright based on the evidence.
News4Jax has asked Naval Hospital Jacksonville for a comment, but since it is about a pending legal issue, it said it would be up to the Department of Justice to respond.
There have been several lawsuits against this same hospital in the last dozen years.
News4Jax has covered 14 lawsuits against Naval Hospital Jacksonville since 2005.