$4.6 Million Award After Cruise Ship Medical Malpractice Leads to Arm Amputation

A former cruise ship crew member was awarded $4.6 million in compensation this week after it was found that negligent medical treatment by the onboard infirmary resulted in the amputation of his arm.     

News.com.au reports that Ilija Loncar was employed on the Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship when he started to experience flu-like symptoms. He made a visit to the ship’s infirmary for treatment where he was seen by one of the ship’s doctors. Dr. Sebastian Campuzano, described in court documents as “young” and “inexperienced,” had been hired by the cruise line only months before.  Campuzano prescribed a massive dose of promethazine to counteract Loncar’s symptoms, which included nausea. The injection caused severe damage to Loncar’s arm, which later had to be amputated.

Promethazine, an antihistamine, is not usually the first line of treatment for nausea. In his court documents, Loncar argued that not only was the drug inappropriate to treat his symptoms but that even if it had been the correct drug the dosage and method of delivery would have been incorrect. Loncar was injected with 25 milligrams of promethazine instead of a standard dose of six and a quarter milligrams in syrup or suppository form, he argued.

After the injection Loncar reports that he immediately felt a burning sensation at the injection site. Despite informing Dr. Campuzano and nurse Marco Oracion of the pain, the pair did not attempt to determine the cause of the burning sensation or provide additional treatment to the injection site. According to the News.com.au report, “The court document also claims that: “The FDA issued the warning because the caustic drug tends to overwhelm vascular walls and cause severe damage to surrounding tissue. Intravenous and intra-arterial injection of promethazine has led to many publicised amputations for unfortunate patients.”

Though Loncar’s forearm began to turn blue in the hours following the injection, the ship’s medical personnel did not medically evacuate him but instead massaged his arm until the ship arrived at port a day later. By the time Loncar was seen by a shore-side doctor, his arm was so severely injured that amputation was the only option.

As a result of his injuries Loncar suffered from “mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, loss of future earning capacity, aggravation of pre-existing conditions, inconvenience, humiliation, scarring, and disfigurement.”