Case Conclusion Date: 08.08.2005
Practice Area: Personal Injury
Description: Type of action: Medical Malpractice Injuries alleged: Right above-the-knee leg amputation Name of case: Fairbanks, et al. v. Harvey Grant, M.D. Court/case #: Hampden Superior Court, Civil Action No. HDCV2002-0026 Special damages: $590,051.29 Amount of settlement: $1,000,000 Date: June 2005 Most helpful experts:Gregory W. Brick, M.D., Boston, MA Attorney Nancy Frankel Pelletier of Robinson Donovan, P.C., Springfield (for the plaintiff) Case Summary: On January 12, 1999, the plaintiff was admitted to Baystate Medical Center as a patient of the defendant, Dr. Harvey M. Grant, for a right knee arthrodesis (surgical fusion of a joint with the goal of pain relief). After the surgery, over the course of the next few hours, the plaintiff was noted not to have any sensation in her toes or on the top of her right foot. After a vascular consult, when no dopler pulses were present below the plaintiff's right knee, an emergency arteriogram was ordered. The diagnostic impression was that a transection of the popliteal artery had occurred. As a result, the plaintiff was taken back to the operating room for emergency surgical repair by a vascular team. The emergency surgery revealed a transected popliteal artery and vein with subsequent compartment syndrome. At the conclusion of the surgical repair, the wound at the ankle as well as the wound on the right calf were left open for drainage due to the severe swelling and fear of further compression. These fasciotomies required substantial wound and surgical care, and the plaintiff underwent many weeks of physical and hydrotherapy treatment, which was followed with further home nursing and hygiene care for eight to ten months thereafter. Following a long, painful and arduous treatment and non-recovery process and with the input of multiple physician opinions, including the plaintiff's new orthopedic surgeon, the plaintiff was advised to undergo amputation of her right foot with a plan of prosthetic replacement, due to the persistent presence of necrotic tissue. Unfortunately the plaintiff experienced wound healing problems with her amputated stump, which became ischemic due to necroctic tissue over the stump. As a result, she was forced to undergo another surgery for further amputation just below the right knee. Due to continuing infection, including the question of infectious involvement with the previously surgically placed right knee plate, the plaintiff underwent surgery to remove the orthopedic right knee hardware. The plaintiff was taken back to surgery for tissue debridement, but was ultimately required to undergo a further above the knee right leg amputation. It is the plaintiff's position that Dr. Grant's failure to investigate the excessive bleeding at the time of the operation, which indicated an arterial laceration, and his failure to treat the arterial laceration in a timely fashion caused irreversible damage to the muscles and soft tissues of the plaintiff's right leg. As a result, the plaintiff required multiple major surgical procedures, including an amputation of the plaintiff's right foot, an amputation below the right knee and, ultimately, an amputation above the right knee.