Monday, December 8, 2014

86 yr old woman dies because her doctor did not listen to her complaints and refer her to a specialist. $325,000.00 SETTLEMENT

This medical malpractice against Defendant-Hospital and physicians for the failure of the medical practitioners and nursing staff to recognize signs and symptoms consistent with lower extremity, vascular blockage. As a result of the delay in diagnosis, the lower extremity was amputated, complications ensued and the patient died. Plaintiff’s Decedent was 86 years of age at the time, living independently and was living a very active lifestyle. Actually, at the time, she had recently been employed as a caregiver up until the time that her client had passed away. The patient presented to the hospital with complaints of pain and coolness in her lower extremity. The physician assessment revealed left-sided weakness, was alert with lower extremity as “not normal.” The working diagnosis was fatigue and weakness. A second nursing assessment approximately 15 minutes later, indicated complaint of pain and numbness in the lower extremity. The family expressed concern that the left lower extremity was colder than the other and had severe pain which she had never had before. The emergency physician ordered a work up for a new onset atrial fibrillation, head CT was performed which was normal, echo was performed which was normal and carotid Doppler was normal. She was admitted to the family practice service on a 23-hour hold with a diagnosis of fatigue and weakness with no mention of concerns regarding lower extremity. The patient was transferred to a medical floor and attended to by the family practice service. On admission, the patient’s lower extremity was cool to touch with faint pedal pulses and weak plantar flexion. The patient continued to complain of bilateral lower extremity pain, decreased strength and coolness. On discharge, the physician notes indicate the patient had no other complaints other than cold lower left extremity, and she was to follow up with her primary care physician. However, the following day, the patient’s lower extremity appeared blackish in color from the knee down and they took her immediately to another hospital, where she arrived in the emergency department with a cold and pulseless lower extremity. It was determined that she had arterial thromboembolus, She was taken to surgery for a thromboembolectomy and aortogram, angiogram and four-compartment fasciotomy of that extremity. During surgery, there was a clot noted within the femoral artery. A clot was also found in the profundus femoral artery and a significant thrombus was brought up with approximately five passes down the SFA. A secondary thrombus appeared to be at length that encompassed the whole femoral popliteal segment. Flow was restored to the lower extremity. Unfortunately, the lower extremity did not recover due to the profound time of the ischemic insult and major limb amputation was recommended. Surgery of the left leg above-the-knee amputation was performed. The discharge summary revealed that the patient tolerated the first surgical procedure well. However, continuous neurovascular checks noted significant mottling without any pulses in the patient’s distal leg leading to the above-the-knee amputation. While in the hospital, kidney function started to decline. She developed acute tubular necrosis of her kidneys and required dialysis. At that point, she had acute decompensation and acute myocardial infarction, which required ACLS with medications and cardioversion. The patient then went into multi-system organ failure. She was intubated, comfort measures were instituted and the patient died on the 10th day after the initial presentation to Defendant-Hospital. The Death Certificate reveals that she died from multi-system organ failure, cardiac arrest, lower extremity, arterial embolus and limb ischemia. Plaintiff relied on physicians in the specialties of emergency medicine, family practice and vascular surgery. It is the opinion of the vascular surgeon that had the patient been referred for specialty consultation with a vascular surgeon within the appropriate time, the vascular surgeon would have appreciated the symptoms in which the patient complained. She would have been taken to emergency surgery and, more likely than not, the leg would have been salvaged, as well as her life would have been saved. Submitted by: Plaintiffs’ attorneys, David W. Christensen, Mary Pat Rosen and Sandra J. Renard; 5510 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48202, telephone 313-875-8080, facsimile 313-875-9857; E-mail address: Defense attorney withheld. Non-Disclosure in effect. MA

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