Case #2001: Vascular Occlusive Disease
On January 11, the Plaintiff, presented to the defendant hospital’s emergency department in a wheelchair with complaints of severe pain and swelling in her right leg and foot. The Plaintiff had a history of recent abdominal surgery and, in addition to her severe leg complaints, she had fecal material coming through her surgical incision.
The Defendants examined the Plaintiff and noted diminished right popliteal, dorsalis pedis and tibialis pulses in addition to tenderness in the popliteal area. They then diagnosed the Plaintiff with peripheral vascular disease and simply discharged the Plaintiff, in violation of the standards of care, with instructions to see a vascular surgeon five to seven days thereafter to evaluate her right leg and vascular insufficiency.
The Plaintiff alleged that the standards of care required the Defendants to perform ankle brachial indices and arrange for a STAT (emergency) consultation with a vascular surgeon. Had that occurred, the Plaintiff would have been diagnosed with occlusion of her lower vasculature and operated upon — thus restoring blood flow to her lower right extremity.
As a result of the negligence of the Defendants, the Plaintiff was denied any appropriate diagnosis and/or treatment whatsoever. The Plaintiff returned to the emergency room in a wheelchair the very next day — January 12, was admitted to the hospital and a vascular consultation was requested and completed.
The vascular consultant noted that the Plaintiff’s right lower extremity was cold just below the knee down to her foot and she had a diminished right femoral pulse and a barely detectable pulse on Doppler studies of the right popliteal artery. Additionally, pulses were completely absent in dorsalis pedis and posterior tibial arteries. The Plaintiff was started on a Heparin drip and diagnosed with arterial ischemia of the right lower extremity.
On January 13, the Plaintiff underwent an angiogram which confirmed a common femoral artery occlusion with reconstitution of the superficial artery and profunda femoris and with distal superficial artery and proximal popliteal occlusion with no flow below her knee. Accordingly, she underwent a thromboembolectomy via the open technique. Tragically, the intervention proved too little too late. Her leg could not be successfully revascularized due to the ongoing negligence of the Defendants. Ultimately, the Plaintiff required a right below-the-knee amputation on January 27.