A 46-year-old man’s amputated leg, which he had donated to a non-profit organization for canine search and rescue training a year-and-a-half earlier, was retrieved by the man’s VA medical malpractice lawyer in July 2016 and may be the best evidence that medical negligence at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System was the reason the man lost his leg.
The man had fallen from a roof in December 2011 while putting up Christmas lights on his home that resulted in a severely fractured right ankle. He had surgery at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System on three separate occasions during which screws and plates were implanted and removed and bone grafts were used that left him with chronic pain in his ankle and foot. The only way to adequately address the chronic pain was amputation below his knee, which was performed by a private surgeon on December 2, 2014.
About a year later, his attorney filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act alleging that the medical care and treatment he received at the VA medical center in Seattle, Washington was negligent and resulted in the need for the amputation. It was not until some time later that the man told his lawyer that he had donated his amputated leg for search and rescue dog training. The plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney contacted the non-profit group and discovered that his client’s leg had been frozen, thawed, used for training, and re-frozen. Despite the handling of the amputated leg, it was found to be in surprisingly good condition. Instead of having to rely on x-rays to prove medical negligence, which the United States could challenge with opposing interpretations of what the x-rays showed, the plaintiff’s federal medical malpractice attorney now has the best evidence he could have hoped for – the actual amputated leg.
The plaintiff’s attorney provided a forensic pathologist with the severed leg for testing and evaluation. The forensic pathologist issued a report on October 7, 2016 in which he states with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the plaintiff’s tibial nerve was damaged by the scar tissue associated with an orthopedic screw tip protruding from a bone in his ankle (the anteroposterior screw protruded 1 cm past the medial malleolus and the tip was in close proximity to the tibial nerve; scar tissue extended from the tip of the screw to impinge upon the tibial nerve, which was damaged).
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Western Washington responded with regard to this case, “we deny there was any negligence on the part of the VA and its providers … [t]he VA providers met the standard of care and we will defend the allegations vigorously in court.” Trial is presently scheduled to begin in October 2017.
If you or a loved one received medical care through the VA that was negligent, or the VA negligently failed to provide necessary medical care in a timely fashion, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who handles VA medical malpractice claims who may investigate your VA medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice claim involving the VA pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, if appropriate.
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