Posted On: February 3, 2014 by Andrew G. Slutkin

Doctor’s Negligence Leda to Patient’s Leg Amputation

Nearly twenty years ago, a patient in Missouri underwent a hysterectomy with lymph node dissection. Shortly after this procedure, she developed lymphedema, or swelling of the legs. This condition required her to undergo physical therapy and medical monitoring for more than a decade. Several years after she was released from monitoring, the patient began experiencing pain in her left leg and foot again. She proceeded to consult several doctors about the pain, and eventually saw an orthopedic surgeon. The patient described her symptoms as numbness, tingling and redness in her foot. The orthopedic surgeon diagnosed her with lymphedema again and other related neurological issues, and recommended she follow up with her neurologist.

The patient followed instructions and underwent several neurological studies and continued to see numerous physicians regarding her condition. However, after about one year, the pain did not subside and she visited the hospital again. At this time, she was diagnosed with phlegmasia cerulean dolens, a severe form of deep vein thrombosis – commonly known as a severe blood clot in her leg. Due to this condition, and the length of time that had passed without treatment, the patient’s left leg required amputation from above the knee down several days after this diagnosis.

The patient initiated a medical malpractice suit against the orthopedic surgeon for failing to diagnose or treat the condition, and for failing to refer her to a vascular surgeon who may have been able to treat the blood clot. Specifically, the medical malpractice complaint alleged that a doctor who saw the bluing and other conditions around the patient’s foot, coupled with her severe pain and decreased ability to move her foot, should have referred her to a specialist for further evaluation. By failing to do so, the patient argued, the orthopedic surgeon was negligent and did not exercise the degree of care ordinarily used by a member of the profession under these circumstances.

The orthopedic surgeon moved for summary judgment on the basis that the patient failed to provide expert testimony to show that the orthopedic surgeon deviated from the proper standard of medical care. The Missouri trial court granted the physician’s motion, and the patient appealed. Ultimately, the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment against the patient after finding that the expert’s testimony was sufficient to establish that the orthopedic surgeon’s failure to refer the patient to a vascular specialist violated the standard of care, was negligent, and caused the patient to lose her left leg. The medical malpractice case was remanded, and now the patient will have her day in court. A copy of the Appeal regarding the medical malpractice case can be found here.

When patients seek medical attention, they expect to receive treatment that meets the appropriate standard of care in the profession. However, a physician’s medical negligence sometimes results in unfortunate injuries to patients. When this is the case, patients and their families deserve medical malpractice attorneys who will confidently represent their best interests and seek the compensation to which they are entitled. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys successfully have handled dozens of cases where a doctor’s act, or failure to act, has caused the patient’s injury.

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