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Sepsis leads to amputations, $16.4M settlement

A South Carolina woman who had three limbs amputated after Crohn’s disease led to sepsis has settled a lawsuit against a hospital, her doctor, a surgeon, and a gastroenterologist for $16.4 million, her attorney reported.

The then 18-year-old was playing college basketball on a scholarship when she began suffering stomach pains, said Chad McGowan of McGowan, Hood, and Felder in Rock Hill. She was eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s disease that went untreated, leading to a bowel perforation and sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s efforts to fight off infections, McGowan said.

The plaintiff claimed that after she was admitted to the hospital, she was not treated correctly with the drugs to battle sepsis, and that resulted in above-the-knee amputations of both legs and a below-the-elbow amputation of her right arm.  She sued for medical malpractice, and the case settled a day before a scheduled trial for $16.4 million.

The woman claimed that the gastroenterologist knew that she had Crohn’s disease but never told her or her primary care physician, McGowan said. The gastroenterologist countered that the woman was at fault because she missed two follow-up appointments, so the gastroenterologist never had the chance to tell her of her condition.

The surgeon claimed that he told the plaintiff she had Crohn’s disease, but that does not appear anywhere in medical records, McGowan said.

The primary care physician said they were kept in the dark by the gastroenterologist. The physician claimed that if the practice had known the plaintiff had Crohn’s disease, it would have changed the plaintiff’s course of care, McGowan said

And the hospital says that by the time the plaintiff was admitted to the emergency room, she was about to die and doctors did what they did they had to do to save her life.

The woman was the first in her family to graduate high school, and the first to attend college, McGowan said.

“It was a massive loss to the family,’ he said.

The woman now has two leg prostheses, and will soon have an arm prosthesis in place.

“She would like to be able to play basketball again, and current prosthetic technology will allow her to do that,” McGowan said. “She would like to be involved in youth sports in some capacity as well as being able to help other young people through similar traumas. While she was probably not going to be in the WNBA, before this injury she did see herself as a high school coach.”

Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached for comment.

Follow Bill Cresenzo on Twitter @bcresenzosclw

SETTLEMENT REPORT – MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Case Name: Confidential

Court: Confidential

Date of settlement: Nov. 6

Attorneys for plaintiff: Chad McGowan, Eve Goodstein, Whitney Harrison and Jordan Calloway of McGowan, Hood and Felder in Rock Hill

Attorneys for defendant: Spencer King of Ward Law Firm in Spartanburg and Matt Henrikson of Greenville for gastroenterologist; Douglas Pratt Thomas of Rogers Townsend in Charleston for surgeon; and Kip Darwin of Holcombe Bomar in Spartanburg for hospital.

 

 

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