Our client was bitten by a large pit bull dog on the lower left leg and left thigh. He sought treatment for the dog bite at a hospital where the wound was sutured and cleansed. The doctor placed his left leg in a mobilizer and discharged him home with a prescription for Augmentin and Vicoprofen. The next day, our client reported to the emergency room of the same hospital complaining that the area, that had been sutured, was now painful and swelling. Our client also had a very high temperature of 102.9˚. The emergency room doctor diagnosed our client with cellulitis of the left leg. He was the discharged home with instructions to continue Augmentin, and he was given a prescription for Ambien.
A few days later, our client’s foot continued to be swollen and painful, and he was again admitted to the hospital for intensive treatment of infection. During this hospital stay, a bone scan was conducted because of the clinical history of an open fracture of the posterior mid tibial region related to the dog bite. The bone scan was consistent with acute osteomyelitis, and our client underwent a left leg wound debridement. The preoperative and postoperative diagnosis was left lower extremity dog bite and abscess cellulitis of the left lower extremity. The wound continued to be very large and open; it was treated with doses of IV antibiotics. Our client remained in the hospital for the next five days before being discharged home.
About a month later, our client reported to the hospital to have a split thickness skin graft to the left calf. Two weeks later, he again underwent various operations to heal his complex wound. A left leg debridement, left leg relaxing incision and rotational cutaneous flap, and split thickness skin graft to the lower leg wound were all performed on our client. Since the dog bite our client was unable to return to work and suffered severe pain throughout all of the surgical procedures to cure the infection.
In this case, the medical review panel met and found that the ER doctor who saw our client one day after the dog bite did not meet the applicable standard of care and had committed malpractice. The panel stated that when our client reported to the emergency room one day after the dog bite with a 102.9 fever, signs of infection at the wound site, and a possible open fracture that the emergency room doctor should have consulted with a wound care specialist. The panel opined that if a wound care specialist had been consulted or had our client been admitted to the hospital on this visit, then the outcome would have been substantially better. The panel believed that the rehab period would have been shortened and that our client would not have had to undergo so many skin grafts and painful procedures.
The medical malpractice of this emergency room physician caused our client pain and suffering. Due to the skin debridements and grafts he had to undergo, our client was unable to return to work or to enjoy his life as he normally would. Our client incurred medical bills, lost wages, and a loss of future earning capacity. The medical review panel’s opinion helped Todd Townsley reach a just and satisfactory settlement for this client.