Name of Case/County:
Wilson v. United States of America
US District Court – District of New Hampshire
This Federal Tort Claim involved the unnecessary amputation the plaintiff’s left lower leg due to an unidentified retained foreign body that had become embedded in his bone marrow.
The plaintiff, Paul Wilson, a 57-year old married father and grandfather, had been attending the defendant VA medical center for several years of ongoing treatment of a chronic diabetic left heel ulcer. The plaintiff underwent the removal of a synthetic bone matrix from the left heel wound and placement an angiocatheter into the wound for antibiotic flushes, as well as the placement of a VAC dressing system with antibiotic irrigant and a PICC line. Upon discharge from the medical center, visiting nurses changed the plaintiff’s VAC dressing and called the employees of the defendant medical center at least two times to report his worsening symptoms and difficulty with the dressing and antibiotic irrigation, and to inform the doctor a VAC sponge pulled apart in the wound. The doctor at the defendant medical center saw the plaintiff, who by then was suffering from severe signs and symptoms of infection such as fevers, chills, hyperglycemia, diarrhea and increasing foot pain. The plaintiff was admitted to the medical center, during which time an MRI of the plaintiff’s left lower extremity was performed, which showed narrowing of the drainage tract and findings consistent with debris or hematoma within the calcaneus cavity. A CT Scan was performed which showed abnormal uptake of the left calcaneus. The films were reviewed and a doctor from the defendant medical center ordered only that IV antibiotics and antibiotic flushes of the wound be continued, no surgical exploration was performed. The plaintiff was discharged home and continued suffering from progressively worsening symptoms of infection including excruciating foot pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. His pain was so intense during this month that he was admitted to the defendant’s facility twice for hospitalization, begging for the doctor to perform a below the knee amputation. After amputation, the leg was found to be viable, with smooth bone and patent vessels. The leg was also found to have a 3.1 x 1.2 x 1.5 cm black fibrous packing material consistent with VAC dressing sponge deep and impacted into the marrow of the cavity in the calcaneus bone. Upon losing his left lower extremity, the plaintiff suffered ongoing pain and complications, underwent at least three additional surgical debridements, two stump revisions, an I & D, and an above the knee amputation. He required extensive physical therapy, use of a prosthesis, as well as a wheelchair, walker, crutches and canes to assist him with ambulation.
Suit was filed against the defendant VA medical center. The plaintiff died after suit was filed of unrelated health problems.
Prior to his death from disease unrelated to the injuries of the suit, the plaintiff suffered ongoing pain and emotional distress due to the unnecessary amputation. His marital relationship was affected and he suffered a significant loss of enjoyment of life. He incurred substantial medical, therapeutic and equipment expenses.
Special Damages (if any):
Medical Bills: $85,394.00
Verdict/Settlement: The case settled after suit was filed but prior to trial at mediation for three hundred thousand dollars.
Holly B. Haines, Esq.
Eva H. Bleich, Esq.
Kevin F. Dugan, Esq.
Abramson, Brown & Dugan, PA
1819 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03104
Defense Counsel (please include name and firm):
Insurance Carrier (if relevant):
Date of Injury: 2008
Date of Verdict or Settlement: 2012