Saturday, January 1, 2011

Duke Orthopedics versus Patient Safety

Medical malpractice - Alleged negligent treatment of post- operative infection - Osteomyelitis - Below knee amputation required.

Originally published in The Florida Jury Verdict Review and Analysis (143230)
Miami-Dade County
The plaintiff alleged that the defendant orthopedic surgeon negligently treated a post-operative infection, resulting in a below-knee amputation to the plaintiff. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was infection free when she left the defendant’s care and that the infection, which necessitated her leg amputation, developed subsequently.

The plaintiff was a female in her late 50s at the time the defendant performed ankle surgery necessitated by long-term degenerative disease. The surgery involved use of surgical screws in the plaintiff’s ankle.

The plaintiff’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that when the plaintiff developed a post-operative infection, the defendant was negligent in failing to remove the surgical screws in order to properly treat the infection. The plaintiff contended that the infection never fully resolved, the plaintiff developed osteomyelitis and required a below-knee amputation.

The defendant’s orthopedic expert testified that the standard of care did not call for removal of the surgical screws, as removal of the screws would have disturbed the surgical site and inhibited treatment of the infection. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s initial infection was healed at the time the plaintiff left the defendant’s care. The defense argued that the plaintiff saw other non-party physicians in Montana. It was only after the surgical screws were removed by a surgeon in Montana that the infection in question developed, according to the defendant’s claims.

The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff.

Perhaps the reason that Duke University Orthopedics, Dr. Michael Bolognesi, Dr. Mark Easley, Dr. Karl Schweitzer, Dr. Jonathan Riboh or any other Duke orthopedic surgeon refused to look at my open wound on Saturday September 18, 2010, was so they could say with a straight face "we never saw an open wound." 

Like the Miami-Dade case, Duke Orthopedics could have said "the initial infection was healed at the time Cheryl left our care."

But wait . . . I don't want to sue Duke Medical.  I have told Duke that about a million times.  I just want to receive medical care and be well.  Duke Medical, on the other hand, seems to trend towards avoiding accountability.

I do not expect medical professionals to be perfect.  I certainly do not expect them to be "God-like."  But what I do expect is accountability.  

If there is a "problem" - acknowledge it, address it, analyze it, resolve it.  Get it done.  

The bottom is "Patients First."

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