The U. S. Government has agreed to settle the medical malpractice claim of a 58-year-old Ohio man involving the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. The federal medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that in February 2015 the man was experiencing left ankle pain that caused instability in the ankle and problems walking that led to him to visit the VA’s Podiatry Clinic. A podiatrist at the VA medical center performed ankle surgery about ten days later. The surgery included a mid-foot fusion.
The man returned to the podiatrist who had performed the surgery on March 5, 2015, complaining of considerable pain. The podiatrist prescribed a walking boot at that time. Over the next several months, the man returned to the podiatrist on many occasions, complaining about lower leg shooting pain and swelling. Despite many physical therapy sessions in June 2015, the man still experienced decreased range of motion as well as poor flexibility of his Achilles tendon and ankle.
In September 2015, the man was seen by another doctor in the VA’s Foot and Ankle Clinic, where the doctor diagnosed an improper fusion. The defective fusion caused the man to hyper-extend his knee in order to place his foot flat on the ground when walking. The same doctor noted in February 2016 that the man stated that his pain level was 9 out of 10, and that he was experiencing extreme difficulty walking on uneven and even ground. A second ankle fusion surgery on March 9, 2016 did not alleviate the pain for which he was taking oxycodone over a period of months.
The man then sought treatment at the Cleveland VA Medical Center. He suffered an infection for which he had an excision of the wound and removal of a bone stimulator, in February 2017.
On April 23, 2019, the man had a below-the-knee amputation of his left leg. Since the amputation, the man has experienced continuing pain, including phantom limb pain. The costs associated with his leg amputation were established to be close to $1 million over his lifetime.
The settlement will be paid on an all-cash basis. The federal government reportedly agreed as part of the settlement to not insist on its typical requirement of a reversionary trust, which provides that any amount of the settlement remaining unpaid as of the date of the man’s death would revert to the federal government and not be paid to his heirs.
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