A Norwegian Cruise Line employee who went to the onboard ship doctor for nausea but got an arm amputation instead has settled with the cruise company for $3.3 million.
Ilija Loncar, a waiter aboard Norwegian’s Breakaway, sued the Bermuda-based cruise company in June 2016 for negligence, alleging the ship’s doctor grossly mistreated his flu-like symptoms with a potent drug and caused him a debilitating injury that led to his arm amputation.
According to his lawsuit, Mr. Loncar admitted himself to the ship’s infirmary in March 2016 with nausea and other flu-like symptoms. Dr. Sebastian Campuzano injected him with a massive dose of the antihistamine promethazine, which Mr. Loncar claimed was an extreme response to his relatively minor symptoms.
But not only was promethazine the wrong choice of medication, Dr. Campuzano gave him “the wrong dosage by the wrong route through the wrong injection site, and it was administered over the wrong time and by the wrong method,” his lawyer told the Daily Business Review.
Instead of administering the anti-nausea medicine Zofran, doctor gave Mr. Loncar a 25-milligram megadose of promethazine – more than four times the recommended amount for even a serious illness. Rather than inject the drug in deep muscle tissue, such as the buttocks, the doctor ordered the IV injection into Mr. Loncar’s vein, the lawsuit alleged.
The drug was also administered over 10 to 15 seconds rather than the recommended window of 10 to 15 minutes, the lawsuit alleged.
Mr. Loncar immediately experienced a burning sensation in his right arm that caused it to turn red and swell. But instead of responding to the negative reaction appropriately, the lawsuit stated that Dr. Campuzano and staff massaged Mr. Loncar’s arm over a 24-hour period, during which time his injuries worsened into acute compartment syndrome, internal bleeding and swelling of tissues caused by pressure buildup.
Mr. Loncar was finally taken to a hospital once the ship docked, but it was too late and he was forced to undergo the amputation of his right arm. The amputation is especially tragic since, according to the complaint, Mr. Loncar’s arm could have been spared had the doctor reversed his course of treatment and properly addressed the adverse reaction.
The complaint notes that promethazine comes with a black box warning, the strongest warning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives, but that those warnings were completely ignored.
Mr. Lonar’s lawyer told the Daily Business Review that Dr. Carlos Gonzalez, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief medical officer, admitted under oath that Dr. Campuzano “violated and breached the standard of care” in treating Mr. Loncar.
Mr. Loncar received an award of $3.3 million in arbitration for past and present pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, and medical expenses stemming from the amputation, according to the Daily Business Review.