A jury awards $31 million in damages to a young boy over a botched circumcision. The nurse midwife and the doctor are found liable for the child’s permanent disfigurement.
In October of 2013, an unnamed boy who was just 18 days old was brought by his mother Stacie Willis to Riverdale’s Life Cycle Pediatrics for a circumcision. During the procedure, an accidental slip of the knife caused nurse midwife Melissa Jones to cut the tip of the boy’s penis.
Dr. Brian Register then called the clinic owner Anne Sigouin, while Jones called the boy’s pediatrician Dr. Abigail Kamishlan to inform them of the incident. However, they were apparently not informed of the full extent of the injury.
According to the lawyer representing Willis, Neal Pope, neither Jones nor Register recommended performing an emergency surgery, and they also kept the severed tissue in the refrigerator and sent the boy home bleeding. He further states that if they had, the severed tissue might have been reattached and thereby lessened the complications that the boy is now facing.
Because of the boy’s injuries, Willis had to insert a tube into her son’s penis three times a day so that it would not close after the procedure, and he had to have surgeries to help him urinate with ease. He also experiences pain from the chronic scabbing, and doctors will have to perform more tests when he hits puberty so as to see if he needs more surgery.
Jones, Register, Sigouin’s clinic, and Dr. Kamishlan’s clinic are all defendants in the case, but so far, only Jones and Register have been found liable.
Circumcision is the surgical procedure wherein the skin covering the penis is removed. In certain parts of the world including the United States, it is normal for newborn boys to undergo the procedure, although it is also possible even after the newborn period.
This, however, is a more complex procedure. In some cases, the procedure is done as a matter of either family tradition, religion, personal hygiene, or preventive health care. Some, however, find that it is unnecessary and even disfiguring.
For the American Academy of Pediatrics, the benefits of circumcision far outweigh the risks. These include easier hygiene, prevention of penile problems, and decreased risks of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and penile cancer. That said, the AAP does not recommend it as a routine procedure, and still leaves the decision to the parents.