Negligent Surgeries for Recurrent Hammertoe Lawsuit

Scott v. We Treat Feet Podiatry

HammertoeThis is a podiatry medical malpractice claim was filed in Baltimore City after a podiatrist performed five negligent surgeries to treat a man's hammertoes. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on February 28, 2018, and it is the 101st medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A 50-year-old man presented to a podiatrist at We Treat Feet with complaints of foot pain related to his hammertoes (contracted digits) on both feet. After two appointments, the podiatrist recommended a surgical repair of the third and fourth digits on each foot.

The podiatrist performed an arthroplasty procedure on the man's toes at Northwest Hospital Center. Thereafter, the man complained of persistent pain and swelling in his right third and fourth toes during eight follow-up appointments over the next four months. The podiatrist eventually recommended a surgical re-do of the right fourth digit.

The revision arthroplasty did not alleviate the man's toe pain, so he underwent three more surgeries. Still, after the fifth procedure, the man continued to experience toe pain along with wound healing and drainage issues. The pain and deformity made walking difficult and the man had to take a significant amount of time off from work. Ultimately, more than one year after his initial arthroplasty, the man underwent a partial amputation of his right fourth toe.

Additional Comments
  • Hammertoe is a deformity of the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint, the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint in neutral alignment or hyperextension, and the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint in normal alignment or dorsiflexion. In English, hammertoe is angled or bent toes which can ride up on their corresponding metatarsals. The treatment modalities with hammertoe vary. A physical examination dictates the patient's treatment options. If the patient has flexible deformities, these can usually be dealt with conservatively with physical therapy. Fixed deformities require surgery.

  • Podiatrists may perform a digital excision arthroplasty, also known as hammer toe repair when a patient's toe buckles at either of its two joints. During the procedure, the podiatrist will remove a small section of bone from the affected joint in order to give the toe room to straighten. Unfortunately, some podiatrists are too quick to recommend an arthroplasty regardless of a patient's specific anatomy and condition. An arthroplasty may provide pain relief at first, but many patients have problems with hammertoe recurrence.

  • The claimant's expert witness, a podiatrist, confirms that the man's podiatrist departed from the standard of care at several points during his period of treatment. After the first arthroplasty, the podiatrist should have recommended a toe bone fusion procedure to definitively treat the man's recurrent hammertoe. During the negligent revision procedure, the podiatrist removed too much bone from the man's toe. At that point the podiatrist should have recommended a toe bone graft, given the excessive bone loss; but instead, the podiatrist made another unsuccessful attempt to correct the man's recurrent hammertoe. Even more bone was removed from the man's toe during this second negligent revision. After five poorly performed operations, the man's toe was so damaged that it had to be amputated.

  • A podiatrist is easier to sue because they do not get the same halo treatment as a medical doctor. This Seinfeld clip underscores why it is easier to sue a podiatrist. The name of the practice does not help juror perception.

  • The damages in this case do not jump off the page. The man had a partial amputation of his fourth toe. When you are placing a trial or settlement value on toe amputations, the big toe is the key. Loss of a big toe can cause a lot of balance and gait challenges. The settlement value of a big toe loss is much higher than it is for other toes.

Jurisdiction
  • Baltimore City
Defendants
  • Two podiatrists
  • Weiner and Daniels, D.P.M., P.A. d/b/a We Treat Feet Podiatry
  • We Treat Feet Consulting Group, LLC d/b/a We Treat Feet Podiatry
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • Northwest Hospital Center
Negligence
  • Failing to timely recommend certain tests, studies, procedures and surgeries to manage the claimant's condition.

  • Failing to conduct appropriate examinations, evaluations, and diagnostic testing.

  • Failing to recognize the claimant's true and serious medical conditions.

  • Failing to obtain timely consultations with specialists.

  • Failing to accurately and consistently document the claimant's signs, symptoms, and other pertinent findings.

  • Failing to notify the claimant's treating physicians of significant changes in the claimant's clinical condition.

  • Failing to ensure that medical and surgical procedures were performed in a safe and sterile environment.

Specific Counts Pled
  • As a direct result of the defendants' negligence, the claimant has suffered significant injuries and losses including: physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional distress, neurological injury, disability and disfigurement, loss of the ability to perform activities of daily living, unnecessary medical expenses, and lost wages.

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