$1 Million Settlement after Leg Amputation

2009 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Plaintiffs prepared to show patient was suffering from compartment syndrome and physicians were negligent in failing to respond with appropriate treatment.

The plaintiff is a 76 year-old man who underwent an above-the-knee amputation of his right leg in November 2002. The plaintiff had a long history of heart problems and diabetes and underwent a left heart catheterization and right and left coronary angiography for chest pain on 11/8/02. A few hours following the catheterization, the plaintiff complained of pain and numbness in his right foot and could not move his toes. He was started on IV Heparin and an angiogram of the right leg was ordered. Shortly after 2:00 p.m., the plaintiff underwent surgery to remove a clot that had formed.

Postoperatively, the plaintiff was under the care of the vascular surgery team. At 9:50 p.m., a surgical resident was asked to see the plaintiff as a result of a complaint of right calf firmness. Upon examination, the plaintiff was found to have a firm right calf, decreased sensation in this foot and no movement in his toes. The resident gave report to her chief resident, who ordered that the plaintiff’s compartment pressures be measured. At that time, the pressures were noted to be in the normal range and no further evaluation was undertaken that evening.

At 8:00 a.m. on 11/9/02, the chief resident examined the plaintiff and noted that the plaintiff continued to have decreased sensation and mobility in his lower right extremity. The chief resident asked the attending vascular surgeon to evaluate the plaintiff. The attending vascular surgeon examined the plaintiff and felt that there was no problem with blood flow to his leg as he still had pulses and could move his foot and leg.

On the morning of 11/10/02, the plaintiff again complained of lack of sensation below the knee. The chief resident examined the plaintiff and again asked the attending vascular surgeon to examine the plaintiff that morning. Again, the attending did not believe there was a problem with blood flow to the leg as he had pulses and was able to move his leg.

On the morning of 11/11/02, a different attending vascular surgeon was asked to evaluate the plaintiff’s right leg and he made the immediate decision to take him to surgery. The plaintiff underwent a right leg four compartment open fasciotomy in an effort to restore blood flow to his leg and salvage his leg. However, by 11/14/02, a vascular consultation revealed areas of necrosis and an odor from the wound. On 11/15/02, the plaintiff underwent a debridement of the anterior, lateral, posterior, deep and superficial compartments of the right calf. The muscles of the anterior compartment were noted to be necrotic and unresponsive to stimulation. Noting the degree of necrosis, the decision was made to proceed with an above-the-knee amputation of the plaintiff’s right leg.

The plaintiff was prepared to show that he was suffering from compartment syndrome in his right leg from 11/9/02 through 11/11/02. The plaintiff expected to present evidence that the defendant physicians were negligent in failing to bring the plaintiff to emergency surgery to restore blood flow to his right leg. The defendants were prepared to present evidence that the plaintiff was not suffering from compartment syndrome until the morning of 11/11/02 and that the plaintiff was treated appropriately at that time.

The case settled 1 week before trial for $1,000,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice claim.

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