Woman has lived with tip of needle in spine for 14 years

Wife of former Navy pilot sues Naval Hospital Jacksonville

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

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?"

Amy Bright with baby Jacob in 2003 and Jacob today.

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.

July 21, 2015
Chrissy Hollis filed suit against the Naval Hospital on behalf of her husband, retired Navy Chief Shon Hollis. He was left in a vegetative state after a routine colonoscopy and endoscopy. 

Oct. 6, 2010
Alexander Medina sued Naval Hospital Jacksonville for alleged misdiagnosis of his brain aneurysm, which left him partially paralyzed.

Oct. 9, 2008
Wrongful death suit filed against Naval Hospital by the husband of 58-year-old Rosario Caoile. She had a CT scan done on Dec. 14, 2005. First read as normal, a second doctor found abnormalities, indicating a possible brain aneurysm. She was told to come back for an MRI the next day. Results not read for five days. She died Dec. 20 at home of a brain aneurysm. Lawsuit was settled in February 2009 for $850,000.

March 14, 2008
June McDowell went to Naval Hospital Jacksonville in 2005 for knee replacement. Attorney Judy Guthrie said doctors drilled into the artery, causing gangrene and the leg had to be amputated.

Jan. 18, 2008
The family of 76-year-old Betty Jean Plato settled a lawsuit over her death in 2005. She underwent eight surgeries for bowel problems and later died of a septic infections. 

Aug. 27, 2007
The family of Navy Petty Officer Nate Hafterson filed suit against Naval Hospital Jacksonville over his death in 2006. Hafterson was admitted after passing out due to low blood sugar. Attorney Sean Cronin said doctors were negligent in giving him medication that caused his body temp to spike to more than 105 degrees. He died of hyperthermia.

Feb. 8, 2007
Joseph and Kendra Alcorn filed a $150 million medical malpractice lawsuit against Naval Hospital Jacksonville alleging their 1-year-old son, Gavin Alcorn, was left brain-damaged by a botched delivery. Gavin is a twin. The other twin is fine. The commander of the hospital told News4Jax there were prenatal complications before the dual birth but did not got into specifics of the claim.

Nov. 29, 2006
After hernia surgery at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Jennifer Backman received a call from the hospital staff to return for blood tests because contaminated instruments had been used. She sued for $5 million. Navy Hospital Commanding Office Raquel Bono said no contaminated instruments were used.

Feb. 7, 2006
Federal Judge Henry Adams awards $2 million to Angela Burch in a lawsuit that claimed Naval Hospital Jacksonville gave her a unnecessary and botched hysterectomy. Burch's husband, Army Maj. Daniel Burch, was serving in Afghanistan at the time.

Jan., 31, 2006
Federal Judge Timothy Corrigan ruled Naval Hospital Jax was not at fault in the 2002 death of Willie Jackson Jr. who died after a diagnostic surgical procedure for pancreatitis. The family was seeking more than $3 million.

Dec. 20, 2005
Cynthia Hess settles suit against Naval Hospital Jacksonville for $1 million over the 2001 death of her mother, Jocelyn Foster, who died from complications from a botched surgery that Dr. Wilkes admitted in depositions she would not have performed had she read Foster's medical history.

Dec. 7, 2005
Parents of 8-month-old Michael Hugaboom filed wrongful death suit against Naval Hospital Jacksonville claiming they misdiagnosed his meningitis. Hugaboom later died. The Navy settled reached a $900,000 settlement with the Hugabooms in July 2007.

Nov. 25, 2005
Federal judge awards the parents of 2-ear-old Kevin Rodriguez more than $60 million in lawsuit over his brain damage. Judge ruled doctors at Naval Hospital Jacksonville waited too long to do a Caesarean section. Judge later reduced the award to $40 million and it was reduced further on appeal.

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