Mistreated infection after surgery?

by Veronica
(South Carolina)

I had surgery to remove a heel spur. All went well until 3 weeks later when it was discovered that I ruptured the tendon in that heel, most likely during a fall at home after surgery. A second surgery was required for repair.

I was placed in a cast to minimize chances of further damage and noticed significant pain, swelling, and a foul odor and drainage a few days after surgery. When I could not get an appointment with my surgeon in what I felt was a appropriate time frame (his office wanted me to wait 6 days), I went to the local ER.

They contacted my surgeon, agreed to not remove the cast per his orders and sent me home. My surgeon called me and agreed to make a special after hours appointment the next day to remove the cast and examine the surgery site.

Once the cast was removed, we saw where the site had opened to a very infected yellow, puss-filled wound measuring about 2 inches wide to 3 inches long. He dressed it, fit me for a splint, and told me to keep it wrapped and come back in 5 days.

I changed surgeons immediately due to my instinct that this was not the proper treatment I should receive. The new doctor was very concerned and wasted no time in culturing the wound and sending me to a wound specialist.

Long story short, it was a staph infection that required a third surgery to remove infected and dead tissue, 6 weeks of hyperbaric treatments, a wound vac, a home health nurse and several rounds of antibiotics. All of this caused me more time out of work that planned, worsening depression, and financial woes.

I understand that infections are a risk of any surgery and I have no reason to believe that it was caused by inadequate sterilization during surgery, but I am very concerned with the lack of treatment when I exhibited symptoms of infection. Is this cause for a malpractice suit against the first doctor? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Mistreated infection after surgery?":

Veronica (South Carolina):

Medical malpractice is defined as the actions or omissions of a doctor which fall beneath the standard of medical care in the community, when those actions or omissions result in harm to the patient.

The question in your case is whether or not the original doctor's actions or omissions fell beneath the standard of care in the medical community. More specifically, would other doctors have made you wait 5 days before seeing you.

In addition, the doctor’s other patients may have had equally painful symptoms, illness and disease, and those maladies had to be treated during the 5 days you had to wait. In other words, if the doctor was working for those 5 days seeing patients, the doctor would have had to cancel one of those patients’ appointments to see you.

Under the circumstances, there doesn't appear to be enough evidence to show your original doctor committed medical malpractice. But as with any malpractice case, you must seek the advice of a licensed attorney with experience with these types of cases.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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