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  • Podiatry Malpractice—Failure to Timely Diagnose and Treat Infection Causing Loss of Limb: Gracer v. Great Lakes Foot and Ankle Institute

Sommers Schwartz attorneys Judith Susskind and Dina Zalewski filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of a 69-year-old man who suffered limb amputation due to the failure to diagnose and treat his osteomyelitis and infection.

The defendant podiatrist performed a left ankle fusion procedure that did not take. As a result, the plaintiff suffered a nonunion requiring further treatment. The defendant ordered X-rays and prescribed a bone stimulator.

A year-and-a-half after the initial procedure, the defendant performed a revision surgery on the patient’s right ankle. The appropriate imaging studies were not ordered or performed before the revision surgery. In violation of the standard of care, no cultures or biopsies were done. The patient continued to treat with the defendant and used a CAM walker and bone stimulator as instructed.

Over the next several months, Mr. Gracer’s condition worsened. The defendant instructed him to use an AFO brace and prescribed Norco. A CT scan revealed abnormalities consistent with infection and osteomyelitis. Rather than treating the infection or referring Mr. Gracer to an appropriate specialist, the defendant continued to provide substandard care. Consequently, Mr. Gracer’s infection and osteomyelitis went untreated and progressed to where his leg was not salvageable.

Following a third procedure by the defendant, Mr. Gracer was unable to bear any weight on his ankle and was forced to use a knee scooter and a wheelchair. Due to frustration, he sought a second opinion. The new doctor performed additional surgeries in an attempt to save Mr. Gracer’s leg. The new doctor confirmed the diagnosis of advanced and severe osteomyelitis. Ultimately, the patient agreed to a below-the-knee amputation, which was recommended.

In this lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant was professionally negligent in failing to timely diagnose and treat the osteomyelitis. Had the defendant podiatrist complied with the standard of care, the infection would have been timely treated, and the limb would likely have been saved.

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