Achilles Tendon Repair Lawsuit

Hofstrand v. Maryland Foot and Ankle Specialists

Achilles tendon SurgeryThis negligent Achilles tendon repair medical malpractice claim was filed in Carroll County after a man's surgical wound from his Achilles tendon repair didn't heal for seven months postoperatively. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on February 21, 2018, and it is the 89th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

After injuring his left Achilles tendon in a skiing accident, a man underwent a tendon repair operation at Carroll Hospital Center. The surgeon used a graft and SwiveLock tendon anchors. After two postoperative check-ups over the next month, the man was cleared to go back to normal duties.

Immediately after he was permitted to resume his normal routine, the man pushed off on his left foot, heard a pop in his left Achilles tendon, and felt immediate pain. The surgeon who performed the procedure said that if anything could go wrong with the operation, it did. An MRI revealed a complete rupture of the left Achilles tendon. The same surgeon performed a repair surgery with graft application. During a postoperative appointment nearly one month later, a nurse noted that the man's surgical incision had opened up. The physician made a plan to debride the burst incision and prescribed an antibiotic.

The man attended six postoperative appointments over the next three months. At each appointment, the incision wound was still noted to be present. Finally, at the seventh check-up, the surgeon referred the man to a wound care center.At the York Hospital Wound Healing Center, the man underwent another surgery to repair his non-healing Achilles tendon wound.

Additional Comments
  • Achilles tendon ruptures usually occur about 2.5 inches above the point where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. Blood flow to this section of the tendon is poor, making it more prone to injury and more difficult to heal. As a side effect of his smoking habit, this claimant would have worse-than-average blood flow, and therefore his Achilles tendon would be at an even higher risk of injury and non-healing.

  • There is a well-recognized link between smoking and delayed wound healing. Nicotine can wreak havoc on the body's natural healing process, reducing nutritional blood flow to the skin and decreasing the proliferation of healthy cells in the blood. Other toxic elements of cigarette smoke, including carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, can diminish oxygen levels and the enzyme systems necessary to process oxygen at the cellular level. All of these disrupted chemical processes result in slower wound healing, which is particularly concerning for patients, such as this claimant, undergoing reconstructive surgery.

  • It is going to be a challenged to causally link the smoking and his failure to heal absent compelling expert testimony. We will know a lot more about this case when plaintiff's counsel files an expert report.

  • Plaintiff is bring the lawsuit in Carroll County, using the Maryland long-arm to bring a against a Pennsylvania provider.

  • Presumably, the defense lawyers are going to argue that this man enjoyed a good recovery but then reinjured his Achilles. They will point out that that his postoperative course was uneventful and he was pain-free following the first repair. Accordingly, they will argue that it is not uncommon for symptoms to recur even after the appropriate medical management and the appropriate reattachment of the Achilles tendon.

  • There is no question that this is an easier claim to bring against a podiatrist than an orthopedic surgeon. Fairly or not, a jury is more likely to defer to an orthopedic doctor than a podiatrist.

Jurisdiction
  • Carroll County
Defendants
  • A Sykesville podiatrist
  • Maryland Foot and Ankle Specialists, LLC
  • Joyce, Lewis Podiatry Associates, LLC d/b/a Freedom Foot and Ankle
  • Stewartstown Podiatry, LLC
  • Carroll Hospital Center, Inc.
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • Carroll Hospital
  • York Hospital
Negligence
  • Failing to instruct the claimant to stop smoking preoperatively and to refrain from returning to normal duties postoperatively.

  • Failing to perform the claimant's surgery appropriately.

  • Failing to timely order the appropriate antibiotics.

  • Failing to timely refer the claimant to a wound or infectious disease specialist.

  • SPECIFIC COUNTS PLED

  • As a direct and proximate result of the defendants' negligence, the claimant suffered severe physical injuries including infection. He has also incurred increased medical care and treatment, permanent scarring, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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