$28.8M Verdict: Blood Clot Misdiagnosed as Sciatica Leads to Amputation of Leg   

2023 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Middlesex Superior Court, Lowell, Massachusetts
By Robert M. Higgins, attorney for the plaintiffs

Blood clot misdiagnosed as sciatica twice in Lowell General Hospital ER leads to left leg loss

Case summary

On 3/7/15, Mr. Luppold presented to Lowell General Hospital emergency department complaining of back pain and a cool left foot that was turning purple. Mr. Luppold was seen by the defendant provider Charles Loucraft, P.A. P.A. Loucraft evaluated Mr. Luppold and diagnosed him with sciatica.

Mr. Loucraft’s testimony at trial was that he was unaware of any foot problems despite that information being contained in his note. 

Mr. Luppold then was discharged by defendant Susan Hanlon, R.N. In the discharge paperwork signed by Nurse Hanlon his foot turning purple is noted. Nurse Hanlon testified at trial that she was unaware of that information. Neither provider suggested or obtained an ultrasound to evaluate his serious foot complaints. 

Six days later, on 3/13/15, Mr. Luppold returned to Lowell General Hospital emergency department. Mr. Luppold’s foot was still discolored and cool but he also complained of severe left ankle pain in the absence of any recent trauma. 

He was seen by the defendant provider Carlos Flores, N.P. Mr. Flores focused his entire exam and questioning of Mr. Luppold on his back. He did not ask any questions about his foot or ankle. At the completion of his exam, N.P. Flores diagnosed Mr. Luppold again with sciatica and discharged him home with pain medication. There was no ultrasound performed to evaluate his foot and/or ankle. 

On 3/17/15, Mr. Luppold went to Lahey Clinic Medical Center. On examination, his left lower leg was cool and mottled with no pulses. He was sent for an immediate ultrasound which showed clot from his upper leg extending down to his foot. 

Mr. Luppold was seen by a vascular surgeon who told him that that the muscle and tissue was dying and his only option was an above-the-knee amputation, which was performed the following day.

The plaintiff presented an emergency medicine expert and emergency room nurse expert who testified that the defendants were negligent in failing to properly work-up his foot and ankle abnormalities. The plaintiff also presented expert testimony from a vascular surgeon who opined that surgery performed on 3/7/15 or 3/13/15 would have saved Mr. Luppold’s leg. 

The defense position at trial was that Mr. Luppold never told them directly that he had foot/ankle problems and that he complained to them of back pain. The case was tried over 3 weeks. 

The jury deliberated for almost 10 hours over 2 days and returned a verdict awarding $20,000,000 ($28,800,000 with interest)

Lubin & Meyer attorneys  Robert M. Higgins and Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

See related media coverage on this verdict:

Jury awards $20 million to man who lost a leg after hospital missed blood clot
The Boston Globe, March 27, 2023


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