A Philadelphia jury recently awarded $4.2 million to a woman whose leg was caused to be amputated because of an infection that she developed after undergoing a double-knee replacement.
The patient, who was a diabetic, presented in 2009 with bilateral knee pain and was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in both knees, a diagnosis which was subsequently confirmed by x-ray. Knee replacement surgery was scheduled for December of 2010. After the surgery, the patient was transferred to a rehabilitation facility where she began to develop drainage and a large blister in the area of the incision on her right leg but was discharged soon thereafter. The infection, later determined to be Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) was allowed to progress and in January of 2011, open wounds on her right leg and left heel were discovered. She underwent additional surgeries to have ulcers drained, and to have a skin graft on her right knee and a flap placed on her left leg.
By July of 2011, the patient had undergone three additional surgeries including one to have the hardware from her knee replacements removed. When doctors determined that her left leg had insufficient blood flow to heal properly, the leg was amputated below the knee. In her medical malpractice lawsuit, the patient alleged that her surgeon failed to advise her of the risks associated with bilateral knee replacement surgery in people with a history of diabetes and also failed to order that she undergo vascular evaluation to determine whether she was suffering from arterial or venous insufficiency. It also was alleged that despite the signs and symptoms of an infection that she was exhibiting, her physician negligently discharged her.