The Plaintiff in this case, represented by Wagners, was a healthy, successful man who decided to undergo an elective hip replacement to alleviate some persistent pain and discomfort. While the surgery was uneventful, and the Plaintiff was soon discharged home, he experienced sudden, severe leg pain while doing exercises about a week after his discharge from hospital.
Before he left the hospital, the Plaintiff had been given the telephone number for his surgeon’s office, in the event that he had any complications or concerns following the surgery. So, when he experienced this sudden episode of pain, he phoned that number. Unfortunately, his surgeon was away.
In an effort to ensure that no serious post-surgical problems had arisen, the Plaintiff stayed on the phone and was eventually connected with the Defendant, a medical resident in orthopedics who was responsible for patient calls at that time. The Plaintiff recalls explaining his symptoms to this medical resident and being told that they were nothing serious, and that he should stay home and do his exercises. The medical resident did not document anything in the Plaintiff’s chart about this phone call.
Reassured by this medical advice, the Plaintiff remained at home until three days later when significant leg pain became apparent and, although he was again reassured by the medical resident that his concerns were not serious, the Plaintiff decided to go to the hospital and seek out in-person medical attention. Shortly after he arrived, the doctors found a major vascular issue – he had bilateral popliteal artery occlusions extending into his tibial arteries. Although efforts were made to restore blood supply to his legs, the Plaintiff ultimately had to undergo a left leg below-knee amputation.
At trial, the Defendant medical resident denied that she had told the Plaintiff not to worry about the episode of sudden severe pain days before he presented to hospital, but this defence was ultimately rejected by the trial judge, who believed the Plaintiff’s account and accepted his testimony and reliable and credible. It was therefore determined that the instructions given by this resident over the phone fell below the standard of care for a reasonable physician with her level of experience, such that she was liable in medical negligence for the consequences of that improper advice.
The Plaintiff also succeeded in proving that this negligence was the cause of the amputation that ensued, and he was awarded compensation for pain and suffering, the cost of his ongoing care needs, loss of income, and other losses he suffered as a result of the malpractice.
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