Failure to Diagnose Compartment Syndrome/Loss of Use of Lower Leg
The Pastrone Case
Mr. Pastrone was at home one winter’s night and was gutting a deer after a day of hunting and accidentally stabbed himself in the right thigh. Mr. Pastrone hit his femoral artery and had to be rushed emergently to a local hospital where he underwent surgery to repair the femoral artery.
The surgery was a success and the doctors expected a full recovery for Mr. Pastrone.
However, some of the risks of this type of vascular surgery are blood clots and compartment syndrome.
Compartment syndrome is a condition that occurs when the muscles in the compartment of the leg or arm do not get sufficient blood supply or an artery or vein leaks, causing blood to pool in the compartment, which then strangles or cuts off the blood and oxygen to the muscles, causing the muscles to die.Following his femoral artery repair, Mr. Pastrone developed a blood clot for which he had another surgery. However, following that surgery to remove the blood clot, he began to complain of pain and pressure in his lower leg. At first, the doctors thought that it might be a collection of blood, so the surgeon opened up the wound and allowed some old blood to gush from the incision site. He then wrapped the leg, but did not close the wound, allowing the wound to breathe. The doctor then left for the night and left Mr. Pastrone’s care in the hands of the nurses and residents on duty that night at the hospital.
Throughout the night, Mr. Pastrone began complaining of pain and pressure building up in his lower leg. The resident doctor examined him and believed that it was simply post-operative pain and ordered pain medication.
Mr. Pastrone continued to complain, screaming out in pain and stating that pressure was building up, and a nurse gave him more pain medication.
At some point in the early morning hours, Mr. Pastrone fell asleep. When he awoke again, he immediately started complaining and screaming in pain. The nurse simply gave him more pain medication and did not inform any doctor.
In the morning, a new resident came on shift and ordered more pain medication for Mr. Pastrone’s continued complaints of pain and pressure. When the surgeon showed up in the morning and examined Mr. Pastrone, he immediately diagnosed him with compartment syndrome.
He then rushed Mr. Pastrone to the operating room to try to relieve the compartment syndrome and save the muscles in the leg. However, it was too late. Blood had pooled in the compartment, and Mr. Pastrone’s leg muscles had died, leaving him with a life-long injury and inability to use his lower leg.
Mr. Pastrone, who was a carpenter, was unable to resume his work.
A lawsuit was filed, and after discovery was completed and picking a jury, the case settled for a substantial settlement.