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Failure to diagnose blood clot causes leg amputation

The loss of one or more extremities due to a doctor's negligence is an unacceptable aspect of the health care system that needs further attention on a national level. The problem is pervasive enough that medical administrators in Louisiana and throughout the country should pool their resources and find safer protocols that will lessen the risk of this kind of tragedy. The failure to diagnose is often the culprit that is responsible for what should have been an unnecessary amputation.

Failure to diagnose is the main reason supporting a $14.95 million award to an 18-year-old woman who lost her leg due to the medical negligence of a doctor and the vascular center that employed him. The woman went to the hospital with pain in her leg. The pain was caused by a blood clot that the defendant doctor and staff members of the hospital did not diagnose.

Amputations are very often caused by loss of blood flow to the extremity. A blood clot is a major cause of disrupted blood flow to the extremity. It is the medical provider's duty to find the source of the leg pain by engaging in an extensive process of questioning and testing so as to rule out other possibilities.

Generally, a vascular specialist would be trained to spot the symptoms of blood clot more effectively than a general practitioner. Judging from the need to cut off the leg, indications are that it was a large blood clot. It is critically important for the health providers to act quickly when a blood clot appears.

In this case, it appears that the patient went to the hospital quickly after experiencing pain. If the medical providers go over eight hours without diagnosing the clot in the leg, the limb will quickly deteriorate into a gangrenous situation requiring amputation. Whether in Louisiana or another state, the failure to diagnose a sizable blood clot, which causes the need to amputate, may be the basis for a medical malpractice award of damages.

Source: Trumbull, CT Patch, "Trumbull Doctor Loses Multi-Million Dollar Medical Malpractice Lawsuit", Rich Scinto, Oct. 17, 2016

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