Tuesday, March 12, 1991.


By Charles Seabrook
Staff writer

Northside Hospital will pay $22.8 million to a boy severely injured in a circumcision accident at the hospital nearly six years ago, attorneys for the child said Monday.

However, Northside spokeswoman Karen Koch denied that a final settlement had been reached and declined to comment further.

The child, who is not 5 years old, had his penis severely burned in a mishap in August 1985. His attorneys said he will never be able to function sexually as a normal male and will require extensive reconstructive surgery and psychological counseling as well as lifelong urological care and treatment by infectious disease specialists.

A second infant who underwent a circumcision at Northside on the same day also was severely injured. That child, known as "Baby Doe" underwent a sex-change operation shortly after the accident, and "consequently is now a female person, who has been rendered sterile and completely incapable of reproduction," said a lawsuit filed in the child's behalf. That lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount, Northside officials said.

Thomas G. Sampson, attorney for the first child, named Antonio, said Northside has agreed to pay the child $22.8 million in several installments over the next several years.

Mr. Sampson said he did not know why Northside has denied that the case has been settled.

"It's settled, I can guarantee you that," said Mr. Sampson, who added that the settlement was approved Friday in DeKalb County Probate Court.

The settlement is one of the largest even in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Georgia, he said. The parents of the child already had settled with the doctor who performed the circumcision, and Mr. Sampson said the total amount of money in the case is in excess of $23.8 million.

The circumcision occurred at the hospital on the day the boy was born. Mr. Sampson and fellow attorneys alleged violations of hospital protocol and the use of inappropriate equipment for the circumcision.

The hospital's usual equipment for circumcision was out of service the day the infant was born, and doctors instead used an electrosurgical unit "that was contraindicated for use" in infant circumcisions, the lawsuit alleged.

Antonio already has undergone several operations, and a series of reconstructive operations, now under way, are expected to continue for at least nine years. until he is 15 years old, his attorneys said.

The circumcision injuries attracted nationwide attention, and prompted new studies to determine the benefits and disadvantages of circumcision. The studies indicate that the advantages outweigh the risks. Circumcised males have less incidence of urinary tract infections and penile cancer, the studies found.

(File revised 5 May 2008)