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Student awarded $111 million in botched surgery case

By WCCO Staff

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    ST. CLOUD, Minnesota (WCCO) — A Minnesota federal jury found a St. Cloud medical center botched the surgery of a then-19-year-old college student in a procedure that left “catastrophic” damage to his left leg, and awarded him over $111 million in damages.

Anuj Thapa, a citizen of Nepal, suffered “permanent” and “disabling” damage as a “direct result of the negligence” of two St. Cloud Ortho doctors, documents say.

In January of 2017, Thapa was a first-year student at St. Cloud State University. He was playing indoor soccer when another player side-tackled him and he noticed severe pain in his leg. He was taken by ambulance to St. Cloud Hospital.

There, doctors determined he had a fracture in his leg. Dr. Chad Holien, who was the on-call orthopedic surgeon at the time, was called in to evaluate Thapa. Holien recommended surgery which Thapa contested, according to the complaint. Still, Holien performed surgery on Thapa that night, with the help of physician’s assistant William Paschke.

After the surgery, the complaint says Thapa experienced severe and difficult-to-control pain in his left lower leg, but was discharged that night.

He returned to the hospital six days later because his pain had not subsided, and a different St. Cloud Ortho physician took him back to surgery. That surgeon discovered Thapa had acute compartment syndrome, and the muscles in his leg were gray and could not contract.

Since then, Thapa has undergone more than 20 surgeries, the complaint says.

The civil lawsuit accused St. Cloud Ortho and CentraCare Health System – which operates St. Cloud Hospital – of the failure to appropriately evaluate Thapa’s initial symptoms, and failure to diagnose his acute compartment syndrome. The health care system’s departure from medical practice “played a substantial role in bringing about Mr. Thapa’s severe, permanent, and disabling injuries,” the complaint says.

In a statement through one of its attorneys, St. Cloud Ortho said it continues to stand by Holien and Paschke.

“We maintain the care provided in this case was in accordance with accepted standards of care,” the statement said, adding: “We are evaluating our options regarding this verdict.”

In all, Thapa was awarded $111,251,559.22, which breaks down to payments for past and future pain, emotional distress, and medical expenses.

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