Emergency room negligence resulted in two unnecessary amputations after hospital staff failed to properly diagnose a patient’s condition. The patient won a $5 million award in the case but she will remain severely impaired for the rest of her life. The missed diagnosis cost the patient both of her legs.
The patient sought treatment at an emergency room facility on Thanksgiving Day in 2008. Although she complained of severe pain in both legs combined with a cold sensation in her feet, a physician’s assistant concluded that she had a cellulitis-related infection. The supervising physician prescribed antibiotics and pain medications, sending the patient home with instructions to follow-up with her primary doctor. No one did any tests or evaluations to check for arterial blockages.
Later that night, the patient’s family members found her unconscious in her home. The blockages caused a heart attack. An ambulance returned her to the emergency room where staff now realized that she had no pulse in her legs. She also apparently had further symptoms of blood clots, sepsis, and other related problems.
As a result of the heart attack, the patient underwent two amputations to remove each leg below the knee.
In her lawsuit against the hospital, the patient sought damages for her future medical expenses, in addition to pain and suffering. The jury agreed with her argument and awarded her $5 million.
Cases like this are all too common. While emergency rooms may be busy, medical professionals have a duty to provide careful treatment to each patient. If physicians miss symptoms and fail to respond to patients’ conditions, the consequences can be severe.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, “$5M awarded to Georgia amputee after misdiagnosis,” Christopher Seward, Sept. 28, 2012