Open wound not healing for years after ankle surgery?

by Ashlee
(Hickory, NC)

I fell on December 29, 2012, shattered my ankle, broke my fibula, and fractured my heel. I went to the ER, my ankle was set, and I was sent home to wait for the swelling to go down before surgery was possible. On Dec 31 2012, I had an open reduction and reconstruction of my ankle. I had to have a plate, pins, buttons, and a tight rope for the reconstruction.

This led to two wounds, a long one on the outside of my leg and a smaller one on the inside. Several weeks passed, the outside wound healed perfectly while the wound on the inside of my ankle showed little change. When I expressed my concern to the doctor, he suggested we give it more time. Keep in mind this is 12+ weeks post-op and I am still unable to apply pressure on my foot.

The wait for my wound continued, my orthopedic surgeon released me to a wound care specialist in his practice. This doctor tried several different options to promote healing, all of which failed. Finally, 9 months post op I went to my family doctor to request a referral.

My family doctor referred me to the top wound care specialist in my area who immediately suggested that I have as much of the metal in my ankle removed as possible. After several attempts to find a new surgeon, I was left with no choice but to go back to the initial surgeon because no other surgeon would touch his work.

When I called the first surgeon's office I was informed that he no longer worked for that practice and had opened his own. After finally reaching him, he was more than happy to do the surgery for me. The practice he had opened however did not accept my insurance so he offered to do the surgery pro bono.

We had discussed the potential for a skin graft to help promote healing but had never agreed on it. My surgery was scheduled for Sept 20, 2013. When I awoke after the surgery I discovered that he had not only removed what metal he could, but he had also taken a graft from my leg only about 3 inches from the initial wound. I found this very strange.

The skin graft healed my wound, but then we were left with the wound from where the graft was taken. The surgeon tried for another 6 months to get this wound to heal before I went back to the wound care specialist to get a second opinion.

The cause for my still open wound? The surgeon instructed me to clean my wound daily with peroxide which was essentially eating the new tissue as it was trying to grow. The entire healing process has taken almost 2 years. Does this sound like a case for malpractice? Any perspective you can give on this would be appreciated. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Open wound not healing for years after ankle surgery?":

Ashley (Hickory, NC):

Your medical history is quite complicated. You may have the basis of a medical malpractice claim, but to know for sure will require expert medical evaluations and opinions. Those opinions are not easily acquired. Moreover, they can be very expensive.

If you are determined to proceed, seek the advice and counsel of several medical malpractice attorneys. Experienced med mal attorneys have excellent medical expert resources. Moreover, the attorneys have the ability and financial resources to hire these experts. You can not handle a malpractice case yourself.

In medical malpractice cases, attorneys do not charge any fee, or require clients to pay any costs of the suit in advance. Once your case is settled or your attorney prevails in court, your attorney will subtract his or her contingency fee and the costs expended in pursuit of your claim.

Gather your medical records and make appointments with several medical malpractice attorneys. After visiting with them you will have a much better idea of the viability of your claim.

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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