A patient comes to the emergency department for treatment of a 4 cm laceration to his lower thigh that occurred when he accidentally hit his leg with a chainsaw while cutting wood shortly prior to arrival. The emergency department staff evaluated and cleansed the wound, then closed the wound using three staples. The patient claimed that he was given a staple remover and was told to remove the staples in one week. Emergency department staff stated that they gave him a staple remover to bring to his primary care physician to have the staples removed in 12-14 days. The patient removed the staples three days after they had been placed. Two months later, the patient returned to the emergency department with severe pain, swelling, and warmth to his knee. Further testing showed that he had suffered a quadriceps tendon laceration and had a septic joint. Despite surgical repair and cleansing of the joint, the patient had debilitating pain and will likely need a joint replacement.
The patient filed a lawsuit alleging that the medical providers performed an inadequate exam, that they should not have given him a staple remover, and that they failed to prescribe him prophylactic antibiotics. Defendants alleged that the patient’s medical care was appropriate and that he contributed to his own injuries by removing the staples three days after they were placed.
After deliberating for several days, the jury decided…
Was the patient’s care within the scope of reasonable practice? You be the judge. Comment below or fill out this survey – and it will be included in next month’s analysis.