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Woman Loses Leg to Amputation, Sues Podiatrist

What are my legal rights if I have been improperly diagnosed by a podiatrist?

Recently, in Michigan, a woman filed suit against her podiatrist physician after a bone infection led to amputation of her leg. The lawsuit alleges that in 2015, the plaintiff, who is a diabetic, injured her foot. She went to an orthopedic clinic, where she was told it was a sprain by the receptionist and scheduled for an appointment over two weeks later. Ultimately, an MRI a month after the accident revealed the foot was fractured.  

Two months later, the plaintiff went to an urgent care center with a skin ulcer. She was prescribed antibiotics due to the physician’s suspicion that she had osteomyelitis, which is a bone infection.  The plaintiff returned to the podiatric doctor who diagnosed the fracture. There, she was not diagnosed with an infection and no additional antibiotics were administered. Months later, she was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with osteomyelitis. Unfortunately, the infection at this point was so severe that she lost her leg.

Misdiagnoses in Podiatry 

The plaintiff in this Michigan case alleges that had the original podiatrist properly diagnosed her with osteomyelitis and treated it correctly, the amputation would have been avoided.  The podiatrist is fighting the claim. This case offers a disturbing look at what can potentially occur when a foot doctor, or any other type of physician, fails to diagnose an emergent condition.

Many podiatric malpractice cases are rooted in a delayed or mistaken diagnosis of a foot or ankle condition.  To have grounds for a malpractice case, the plaintiff will need to show that the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis leads to the worsening of the patient’s condition. A podiatric malpractice case involving a misdiagnosis will require a careful look at the steps taken by the podiatrist to diagnose the condition, which is a process referred to as differential diagnosis.

Differential diagnosis involves the system by which doctors consider the various conditions that might be responsible for the patient’s symptoms.  Doctors should develop a list of potential conditions then investigate the possibility of each as the final diagnosis using diagnostic tests, observations, questioning, investigations into the patient’s medical history, and consulting with a specialist, as needed.  Often, when a podiatric patient is misdiagnosed, the doctor used a flawed differential diagnostic.  

Podiatric patients who believe they have suffered harm due to being misdiagnosed should consult with a podiatric malpractice attorney as soon as possible.  Your lawyer can start the complex process of gathering the facts and evidence surrounding your case.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.