Bacterial Infection Leads to Amputation

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on May 11, 2016

Infectious Disease Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Mississippi and involves a female patient who was admitted to hospital with complaints of an elevated fever. She had severe swelling and pain in her left hand. While in the waiting room, she informed the nurses about a painful wound on her left hand. The patient was informed that there was no one available at that time who could see to her hand. By the following day, the patient’s hand had begin to turn purple, and the discoloration spread over the course of the day. At some point that day, an infectious disease physician was called in on a consult, and noted that a wound care consult ought to be obtained but despite this recommendation, no consult was arranged. The following day the patient’s arm was odorous and black. The attending physician noted a strong foul odor to the area consistent with infection. Some days later the patient underwent an amputation of her left hand and forearm above the elbow.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1.) Do you routinely treat patients like the one described in this case?
  • 2.) What is the standard management of patients with this presentation?
  • 3.) Based on the brief summary of the case do you believe that this patient might have had a better outcome had the care rendered been different?
  • 4.) Have you ever reviewed a similar case in the past?

Expert Witness Response E-006894

I routinely treat patients with this condition. The patient’s elevated white blood cell count, if new, was a critical value in and of itself a likely reason for hospitalization. Depending on appearance of the hand, urgent surgical consultation was warranted plus possibly an evaluation for vascular sufficiency. I would need to review the medical records to opine as to whether or not prompt appropriate care would have rendered her foot was salvageable, however from the information provided it seems clear that the patient’s care was mismanaged in this case. I have reviewed similar cases and would be happy to review this case. I am Board-certified in Infectious Diseases with over years experience in clinical practice. I am the Division Director of a 13 member ID division at an academic medical center.

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