Loss of a limb can be traumatic. After going your whole life with the use and function of arms and legs, suddenly waking up to find your foot and leg missing takes a lot of time and emotional strength to adapt. Loss of a limb can be even more devastating if it was preventable and caused by a medical error.
Above-the-Knee Amputation After Medical Error
In a New York Times op-ed story, a man opened up about his experience with losing his leg due to a medical error. Frederick S. Southwick experienced sudden pain in his left calf. Two months later, he had to have his leg amputated above the knee.
With no history of atherosclerosis, low cholesterol, no history of smoking, and no evidence of diabetes, and no blood vessel blockage anywhere else, Southwick’s doctors had no explanation for why the blood flow had been cut off to that part of his leg. After the amputation, he started looking into what happened and discovered the amputation was preventable and attributed to a medical error.
Southwick was familiar with medical care and treatment because he was a surgeon himself. Before the surgery-gone-wrong, Dr. Southwick, a University of Florida professor of medicine, had even written a book about preventing medical errors. His experience goes to show that a medical mistake can happen to anyone.
Years earlier, Southwick had surgery to repair an Achilles tendon injury. When Southwick looked at the operating room report, he found the surgeon had used a large tourniquet at high pressure for a prolonged period of time. Southwick concluded that the pressure cuff can injure his arteries which worsened over time with scarring and calcification.
Loss of Mobility and Adapting to Use of a Prosthetic
After losing the leg below the knee, a prosthetic may restore some of the function for the patient, including the ability to walk or even run. However, amputation above the knee can be more difficult to accommodate and the patient may be required to use a wheelchair to get around.
After amputation, rehabilitation can greatly improve the patient’s use of the remaining limb, adapt to using a prosthesis, improve mobility, and help the patient adapt to such a significant change in body function and appearance. Rehabilitation and post-amputation care can involve any number of medical professionals, from physical therapists, to prosthetists, to specialist nurses.
Amputation Error Attorneys
Many amputations are caused by vascular disease related to diabetes or because of an infection. Sepsis with peripheral necrosis can be caused by an infection to the foot or lower limbs. An amputation may be required to remove dead tissue and remove the source of infection to keep the infection from spreading to the rest of the body.
Vascular disease is an abnormal condition of the blood vessels. This includes peripheral arterial disease (PAD) that blocks blood flow to the limbs or extremities. Lack of blood flow can slow the healing process and allow infections to continue until the patient begins to suffer tissue damage.
If you had to have a limb amputated and suspect it may have been due to a medical error, talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your right to compensation. Do not hesitate to contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.
About the Author