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NY Prisoner Awarded $160,000 for Lost Testicle

A New York Court of Claims has awarded a former Collins Correctional Facility prisoner $160,000 in a medical malpractice suit.
On November 22, 1998, Robert Hicks experienced pain in the area of his left waist. He said he laid on his bed, went to the restroom, and then returned to his dormitory, where he laid down and was unable to move. After Hicks noticed his left testicle was swollen, guards called the infirmary three times that afternoon, reporting Hicks was in pain, had blood in his urine, experienced pain when he urinated, and was constipated.
After he was finally assisted to the infirmary, Hicks told a nurse his left testicle was the size of a softball. She gave Hicks the prison cure all: Tylenol with codeine, which he vomited. Hicks was kept for overnight observation. A state doctor diagnosed Hicks with a gastrointestinal condition, which seemed to resolve itself after he had a bowel movement. Hicks was released from the infirmary the morning of November 23.

On November 24, Hicks returned to the infirmary with similar complaints as before. Between then and November 27, Hicks saw the doctor three times. His treatment for his enlarged left testicle was a scrotal support, stool softener, and instructions to soak in warm water. After the doctor noted Hick's testicle was the size of a softball on November 27, he was sent to a local hospital.

Upon arrival at the hospital, it was determined Hicks had suffered a left testicular torsion and infarction, which is a twisting of the testicle. Hicks underwent an orchiectomy surgical removal of the left testicle. A right orchipexy, or tying of the right testicle to the scrotum to prevent torsion, was also performed.

Hicks testified at trial that upon return to prison from the hospital, he was unable to walk for some time. After release from prison, he has been only able to perform limited activities with his daughter, he cannot physically lift her, he cannot stand or walk for extended periods of time, his sex drive has decreased, and he feels a pulling" where his right testicle was attached to the scrotum.

Hicks' expert witness testified Hicks suffered a visibly deformed scrotal sac; feels tenderness in the left groin, and has some swelling in the right testicle. Hicks also appears to be depressed and complains of sexual dysfunction, the expert testified. The court of claims held the state doctors departed from reasonable care in failing to seek immediate evaluation on November 22. Moreover, had the condition been treated in the first six to eight hours after Hicks began experiencing symptoms, the testicle might have been saved. The court awarded Hicks $100,000 for pre-operation pain and suffering; $50,000 for the loss of his left testicle; and $10,000 for psychological damages. Hicks was represented by Edwin T. Mulhern of Franklin Square, New York. See: Hicks v. New York, New York Court of Claims, Case No. 99554.

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Related legal case

Hicks v. New York