Losing a part of your body is a traumatic event and often can hugely impact your way of life. This is even more true for people who experience limb loss, especially those who experience it due to serious errors made in their medical treatment or surgery.
One of the medical errors that may lead to the amputation of a limb or even cost the patient their life is delayed deep vein thrombosis (DVT or blood clot) diagnosis.
This is just the type of case Miami attorney Sean M. Cleary handles when the egregious negligence of others causes devastating harm to families.
Blood clots that occur in patients are under the radar at most hospitals, despite being potentially deadly. Deep vein thrombosis can be prevented when patients are screened for their risk and given therapy, but many patients are not screened and do not receive appropriate treatment.
Studies show that lower extremity amputation is associated with Deep Vein Thrombosis in 11% of patients, and documenting DVT prevalence is essential in helping medical professionals plan a management strategy involving prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of DVT associated with lower limb amputation.
Examples of Deep Vein Thrombosis Malpractice
- A man with a right leg DVT, high blood pressure, and a history of obesity was presented to an emergency department complaining of nonstop left calf and foot pain that had begun all of a sudden that day. After a venous ultrasound that was negative for DVT, he was discharged with instructions to follow up with his primary care doctor. A couple of weeks later, the man returned to the ED with acute symptoms:
- Occasional left foot and ankle pain
- A cold feeling
- A sore between his toes
After another week went by, the man arrived at the hospital via ambulance with:
- Severe pain
- Numbness in his left leg with no palpable pulse
A CT scan showed a large blood clot almost entirely blocking blood flow to his lower left leg arteries. In an effort to dissolve the clot, a vascular surgeon started him on medication. Over the next several days, the man underwent a thrombectomy and a femoral-popliteal bypass surgery, both unsuccessful before he was transferred to another hospital center for a stent angioplasty. As the angioplasty was not successful, the man ultimately needed an above-knee amputation.
When the man first arrived at the ED, the signs of DVT were relatively benign, implying that he was experiencing the early stages of the condition and his left leg was still benefiting from some blood flow. If the DVT had been diagnosed at that point, it is highly probable that he would've made a complete recovery. When an extremity is cool to the touch, like the patient's leg upon his return to the hospital, it is an indication of severely restricted blood flow.
- A failure to timely diagnose a blood clot led to the amputation of a woman's leg. At the time of the medical malpractice, the plaintiff was eighteen years old. She went to the hospital with complaints of leg pain and was diagnosed as having an arterial blood clot. The defendant, an on-call vascular surgeon, did not recognize the necessity for immediate care. As a result of the delay, this young girl was forced to have her leg amputated.
Reasons for a Deep Vein Thrombosis Medical Malpractice Claim
People who have suffered leg amputation due to a delayed deep vein thrombosis diagnosis can file medical malpractice claims.
For example, in both cases presented above, as a direct result of the health care providers' negligence, the patients suffered additional medical procedures, economic loss, and permanent injury that resulted in the amputation of one of their legs. The medical negligence may consist of:
- Failing to examine the patient for a blocked artery appropriately
- Failing to perform diagnostic testing, such as a vascular exam
- Failing to offer a vascular surgical consultation
- Failing to notice and respond to the symptoms of DVT
- Failing to administer appropriate medications in a timely manner
- Failing to order and perform proper testing
- Failing to timely react to known surgical emergencies
- Failing to communicate among health care providers adequately
Leg Amputation Due to Medical Malpractice
Leg amputation is one of the worst physical injuries a person can suffer from medical malpractice, severely affecting their quality of life. The necessary rehabilitation is lengthy, and their earning abilities are compromised, being rendered unable to work. Medical costs could drastically increase, as assistive devices might also be required to ensure a swifter recovery. And so it is essential to understand what are the steps to take after such a damaging injury:
- You can recover damages for all your losses through a medical malpractice claim.
- In making medical decisions, a doctor must use the same level of care as another physician would under similar circumstances.
- As soon as the duty of care is established, the injured party must prove that the health care provider's actions deviated from commonly accepted medical standards.
- The breach must be determined as the legal cause of the victim's injuries.
- Presenting exhaustive evidence can help increase the settlement compensation, as future expenses can be claimed: medical expenses (hospital time, physical therapy, surgeries, medication, long-term care) or mental distress.
How Can an Attorney Help With Your Malpractice Claim?
The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary undertakes the sometimes long and costly fight for justice on behalf of the patients and their families whom we take on as clients. Have you suffered a hospital injury due to the negligence of a medical professional? Our Miami medical malpractice attorney can help you secure the compensation you deserve and hold negligent physicians accountable.
When our Florida medical malpractice lawyer takes on your case, we'll handle it under a contingency fee agreement. This is the guarantee that you pay no legal fees unless we get a settlement or recovery for you. We even advance all the money needed for the costs and expenses of pursuing your case.
If a doctor goes for more than eight hours without diagnosing the blood clot in the leg, the limb will quickly descend into a gangrenous state requiring amputation.
A misdiagnosis or delayed DVT diagnosis can sadly have life-altering implications. When left untreated, the blood clot in the leg can restrict blood flow to the arteries in the limb, making amputation a necessary and life-saving procedure.
Failure to diagnose deep vein thrombosis can lead to an amputated limb or even cost the patient their life.
A blood clot is a severe cause of disrupted blood flow to the extremity. Amputations are typically caused by loss of blood flow to the extremities. The medical provider has a duty to find the source of the leg pain by conducting an extensive process of questioning and testing in order to eliminate other possibilities.
Lower limb amputees have increased mortality risks from cardiovascular disease. Further prevalent factors with arterial system consequences include psychological stress, insulin resistance, and damaging behaviors like smoking, alcohol use, and physical inactivity.
Worse than most malignancies, the somber mortality statistics following amputation range from 13 to 40% in one year, 35 to 65% in three years, and 39 to 80% in five years.
The possibility of DVT being present with no symptoms or pain can make it challenging to be recognized or diagnosed. Therefore, to minimize the risk of a DVT going undiagnosed, medical professionals must take into account all risk factors that could account for deep vein thrombosis.
DVT treatment must start immediately, as it takes about 3 to 6 months for a blood clot to withdraw. If left untreated, approximately 1 in 10 people affected by DVT may develop pulmonary embolism, a severe condition with damaging breathing effects that can prove fatal.
One-third to one-half of people affected by amputation from deep vein thrombosis struggle with long-term complications, which may include infection, muscle shortening, excessive bleeding, or pulmonary embolism.
Other severe aggravations following amputation include heart problems such as heart attacks, infections, slower wound healing, pneumonia, and "phantom limb" pain.
Amputation of the leg is most often performed to eliminate dead tissue (gangrene), tumors, painful ulcers, or tissue with improper blood supply. A common cause of improper blood supply is a narrowing in the leg arteries, accounting for nearly 70% of amputations.
Since lower extremity amputations are associated with blood clots, it is vital that medical professionals assess the risks of DVT and make plans for prevention, diagnosis, and early treatment.