Untimely diagnosis of arterial blockage

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Case in Point

November 20, 2012

Untimely diagnosis of arterial blockage 

The plaintiff alleged that the defendants’ failure to order appropriate testing and timely diagnose her arterial blockages necessitated amputation of both of her legs below the knee. The jury awarded $5 million. Wadsworth v. Howland.

Ellen Wadsworth, 61, developed severe pain in her feet and legs. Emergency medical technicians brought her to Houston Medical Center, where physician’s assistant Gregory Howland ordered a venous Doppler examination to determine whether there was a blockage in Wadsworth’s veins. The exam showed no blockage, and Howland reported these findings to emergency physician Paul Paustian. Howland subsequently diagnosed cellulitis and discharged Wadsworth. Paustian later noted that he had reviewed and agreed with Howland’s treatment of Wadsworth.

After returning home, Wadsworth collapsed. She was returned to the hospital, where tests revealed blockages in the arteries of her lower extremities. By the time of the diagnosis, measures to save Wadsworth’s legs were unavailable, and she required amputation of both legs below the knee.

Wadsworth sued Howland, Paustian, and an emergency medical group, alleging failure to order appropriate testing and timely diagnose the arterial blockages.

The jury awarded $5 million.

Citation: Wadsworth v. Howland, No. 10C-13313-4 (Ga., Gwinnett Co. St. Sept. 24, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Virgil L. Adams and Caroline W. Herrington, both of Macon, Ga.

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