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Plaintiff sued over gangrene following leg amputation – Defense Verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 18, 2016

Plaintiff sued over gangrene following leg amputation – Defense Verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 18, 2016

Suffering from severe and longstand­ing peripheral vascular disease, Mar­tha Aughavin, an active 87-year-old who worked until she was 85, underwent a right below-the-knee amputation with vas­cular surgeon, Stanley Crossland, MD, on March 27, 2011, at Reston Hospital. Cross­land had performed a dozen interventions on Aughavin’s legs over the years (i.e., ar­threctomy, stents and bypasses) in an effort to preserve her legs. After the right BKA surgery, Aughavin went to an acute reha­bilitation hospital for about 10 days. On April 13, 2011, she was transferred to the defendant nursing home. Shortly after ad­mission, necrotic skin was seen around the staple site. The attending physician and wound care nurse deemed it a commonly seen phenomenon and changed the wound dressings to be done every other day, rather than daily, to promote healing. On April 20, 2011, necrosis was seen around the wound bed. Nurses notified the attending physi­cian, who immediately ordered the patient to return to Crossland. Crossland saw the patient the next day, diagnosed gangrene, determined the leg was not salvageable due to infection, and on April 25, 2011, he per­formed a right through-the-knee amputation. Aughavin sued the nursing home and her at­tending physician claiming that they failed to properly monitor the BKA stump and timely notify Crossland of a problem. Aughavin al­leged (and Crossland testified at trial) that had defendants notified him earlier, he could have saved the BKA stump, which would have enabled Aughavin to walk, drive, and live a more meaningful life. With a higher amputa­tion, Aughavin was confined to a wheelchair, could not drive, and was largely house-bound.

Defendants’ theme was that they prop­erly monitored the right stump and that Aughavin’s profound ischemia – not infection – doomed the right BKA to fail. Pre-operative­ly, Crossland determined that all three major arteries to her right leg were 100% occluded. At trial, he conceded that Aughavin had no blood flow below her mid-thigh before he per­formed the right BKA. Finally, there were no objective signs of an infection. Aughavin never had a fever, an elevated white blood cell count, positive cultures, any pus or foul smell from the wound.

After five days of evidence, the jury delib­erated for an hour before returning a defense verdict for all defendants.



Type of action: Medical Malpractice
Injuries alleged: Through the knee amputation and permanent disability
Name of case: Martha Aughavin v. Nursing home and its medical director/attending physician
Court: Alexandria City Circuit Court
Case no.: 15-002516
Tried before: Jury
Name of judge or mediator: Hon. Lisa B. Kemler
Date resolved: May 20, 2016
Special damages: $52,000 for through the knee prosthetic, $180,000 for increased cost of living, permanent disability/confinement to a wheelchair
Demand: $1,000,000.00
Offer: $0
Verdict or settlement: Defense Verdict
Amount: $0
Attorneys for defendant: Byron Mitchell and Kristina Lewis (for attending physician), Fredericksburg; Gerry Ragland and Richard Coel (for nursing home), Alexandria
Attorneys for plaintiff: Sean O’Connell and David Maselli, Arlington
Defendant’s experts: for defendant physician: Dennis O’Neill, MD (internal medicine), Gary Simon, MD (infectious disease), Joseph Farr, MD (vascular surgeon); for nursing home defendant: Angela Carr, RN, Jeff Brown, MD (vascular surgeon) and Carolyn Hassan, RN
Plaintiff’s experts: Stanley Crossland, MD (vascular surgeon), Joanne Biddix, RN
Insurance carrier: The Doctor’s Company

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