Lawsuit claims St. Agnes mistake cost Fresno attorney three limbs

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A fairly common medical treatment has led to a series of lawsuits, including one against a Fresno hospital because it's blamed for a man losing three of his four limbs.

Keith Rickelman's life changed quickly in May 2020.

He got married May 1 and was admitted to St. Agnes Hospital a few days later when he needed heart surgery.

"As a result of going in for heart surgery, he ended up being a triple amputee," said Rickelman's attorney Warren Paboojian. "Not because of the heart surgery, but because of the drug that was given to him called Heparin."

Paboojian filed a malpractice lawsuit against St. Agnes and seven of its employees. He says medical staff used the common blood thinner Heparin.

Doctors have used the drug to stop blood clots for more than 100 years and for almost 70 years, they've known about a side effect.

According to The American Society of Hematology, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia occurs in a small percentage of patients and it can be reversed if caught in time.

The lawsuit claims Rickelman's doctors failed to diagnose and treat his adverse reaction.

His attorney says the condition kept getting worse until St. Agnes transferred Rickelman to a San Francisco hospital.

Doctors there saved his life, but he lost both legs and one arm, which has kept him away from his law practice and devastated the newlyweds.

"This has been one heck of a way to start a new marriage," Paboojian said.

Action News invited St. Agnes' management to respond to the lawsuit, but they told us they don't comment on pending litigation.
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