Podiatrist subject of multiple malpractice suits

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An Ohio physician is the target of a nine active medical malpractice lawsuits stemming from incidents that patients claim cost them their limbs.

The podiatrist, who says that he accepts high-risk cases that other physicians will not take on, contends that he was doing his job well. However, he did resign from OhioHealth and Doctors Hospital, both of which he had been with for more than 20 years.

The physician, age 65, is continuing to practice at his private clinic, and he also maintains surgery privileges at two other institutions. He is still in good standing with the State Medical Board, and he has never had a disciplinary action levied against him.

Most of the plaintiffs in the malpractice cases were relatively healthy before they had surgery. One woman, who had gone to the doctor to alleviate pain in her foot, had been mobile before the operations. She had been able to play with her grandchildren before a series of surgeries forced her to lose the lower part of her left leg. Now, she is unable to do a lot of the everyday activities she used to enjoy.

Although the physician had been the subject of other suits in the past, the majority have come in the past three years. Eleven suits have been filed since 2009, according to court documents.

Most of the active lawsuits are related to botched ankle surgeries, though the doctor does have one wrongful-death suit pending against him as well. Several of the plaintiffs have had their legs removed after a string of unsuccessful surgeries. Others require assistance such as walkers, canes and braces.

The wrongful death suit alleges that a 39-year-old man died under the physician’s care after surgery on a ruptured Achilles tendon. That suit claims that the man had undiagnosed sleep apnea, and medical staff failed to properly monitor him after the operation.

The physician’s legal team says he performs more than 600 operations annually.

When an individual faces unbearable discomfort and pain, they often seek the advice of a physician that specializes in the field of medicine where the pain is located. After what should be a thorough examination, a course of treatment is suggested. Sometimes, the recommendation to decrease the pain is surgery.

A patient, desperate to eliminate the pain, trusts in his or her doctor’s advice and undergoes the recommended procedure. They trust that when all is said and done, their malady will be better. They trust their doctor knows what steps need to be taken to help them and when that trust is dashed; the patient and their family deserve answers.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Hilliard podiatrist facing 8 malpractice suits,” John Futty, July 9, 2012