Laraine Kelley, a Partner at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, recently obtained a $1,625,000 settlement on behalf of a client who lost his foot as the result of his peripheral vascular disease being misdiagnosed by a podiatrist.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a disorder of the circulatory system that involves the accumulation of plaque in blood vessels. The area of the body most commonly impacted by PVD is blood vessels in the legs. As blood vessels become narrow or blocked in a particular part of the body, there is a reduction in the flow of oxygen to that area. If a minor trauma is suffered to the area of the body affected by PVD, it can accelerate the disease. PVD can cause pain, discoloration, and ultimately gangrene in the area of the body affected. PVD most frequently occurs in people over the age of 60 and those with a history of smoking.
Client Symptoms and Misdiagnosis
Ms. Kelley’s client, a veteran of the Vietnam War, stubbed his toe while at home one evening. Subsequently, he experienced foot pain and sought treatment for his foot at a local hospital, where he was examined by a podiatrist.
Given the gentleman’s symptoms as well as his age and smoking history, the podiatrist should have considered him for a condition like peripheral vascular disease. Instead of forwarding the client for simple testing that would have revealed PVD, the podiatrist eventually told him that he had a rather obscure diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome and that he would simply have to wait for the “pain cycle” to break before he would feel better. In essence, the he was told that there was nothing the hospital could do about the pain other than administer pain medications with the hope that the pain would subside at some point.
Progression of Disease and Loss of Foot
As the client’s peripheral vascular disease remained unchecked, the loss of oxygen to his toes continued and his condition worsened to the point of gangrene. Eventually, the gentleman came under the supervision of the vascular service at the same hospital. However, by that point it was too late. Due to the advanced state of the peripheral vascular disease, he lost his foot after multiple surgeries.
Failure to Abide by the Standard of Care
Ms. Kelley stated, “This case represents a classic example of the fundamental obligation of any treating physician to take and document a thorough history, to conduct and document a thorough exam, to then evaluate the patient so as to develop a list of possible causes for the complaints being made based on this patient’s history and the physical exam. The doctor in this instance never engaged in that exercise, never carefully documented a history or a thorough exam and instead literally jumped to one conclusion and then jumped to another conclusion as she saw this patient over many visits.”
When a doctor fails to abide by the standard of care, he or she fails to do what they ought to do under a given set of circumstances or does something they shouldn’t have done, which produces or contributes to an injury or enhances an injury to the client. In this case, the standard of care would have required that the podiatrist consider and test for peripheral vascular disease when she was presented with the gentleman’s symptoms, age, and smoking history.
The defense argued that the patient would have lost his foot regardless of the care he received at the hospital. The plaintiff successfully argued that he was deprived of the opportunity for timely treatment due to the hospital’s negligence.
For More Information
Laraine Kelley has over thirty years of experience successfully representing clients in complex medical malpractice cases. Numerous attorneys refer their complex litigation matters to Ms. Kelley and she has been awarded many peer recognition awards, including Best Lawyers in America’s “Lawyer of Year” for Medical Malpractice Law. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact Laraine Kelley for a free case review.