A settlement agreement was reached in a Pennsylvania federal court in the case of Pierson v. U.S.A. Douglas Peterson, a 72-year-old army veteran, had brought a medical malpractice case against the Philadelphia VA Medical Center alleging negligence. Timothy Savage, a U.S. District Court Judge, approved a settlement that was agreed upon by parties in case.
Pierson's claim involved negligent treatment for a urinary tract infection that progressed causing gangrene, which is a condition where the body's tissue dies as a result of decreased blood supply to the region. As a result, he was forced to undergo an amputation of both his legs from the knee down. According to the plaintiff attorney, the case was settled for $925,000 and dismissed with prejudice, meaning that it is permanently dismissed and cannot be brought back to court.
The Philadelphia VA Center serves veterans from the areas of southeast Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Pierson's suit named the VA hospital and the federal government as defendants. He visited the hospital initially complaining of pain in the thigh region of the right leg that was stretching up as far as the groin region. The diagnosis was that he had developed a kidney stone and he was told that no further intervention would be necessary.
A kidney stone is a stiff mass composed of salt and minerals that forms in the kidney and then moves into the urinary tract, which can be very painful. Pierson later returned to the hospital with a worsening condition, when the proper diagnosis of a urinary tract infection was made. The emergency room staff administered an intravenous dosage of antibiotics prior to release.
Pierson returned to the facility several weeks later complaining of more severe pain. He was once again diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and was ordered to receive a dosage of oral antibiotics; however, it was never administered prior to his release. He returned the following day, demonstrating a fever of over 101 and was released shortly after without any imaging work conducted. That evening he returned via emergency responders complaining of chills and had a fever of 106. Pierson was treated for septic shock, which developed into gangrene in both of his feet and required the bilateral leg amputations.
The reason that the amputations were ultimately necessary was believed to have stemmed from the physician's failures in diagnosing and monitoring the kidney stones and the urinary tract infections. The complaint clearly stated that the outcome could and should have been avoided.
He had initially sought nearly $20 million in damages. U.S Magistrate Judge Jacob Hart facilitated the conference that resulted in the settlement. A plaintiff attorney said that they were satisfied with the resolution, while the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District chose not to comment on the matter.