My question involves malpractice in the state of: California
Last year I injured my foot, it was a small cut, but I am diabetic and knew the seriousness of even a very small cut. I had just moved to California, so I had to find a doctor in an area I really didn't know well. The doctor that I had found never looked at my wound simply took my word that it was there and told me he would try to get me in to see a podiatrist, but it may take 3 months for them to see me. This, I was informed was the only podiatrist covered under my insurance.
In the wait for 3 months to see someone, this doctor never once took a look at my wound. I would go to the ER a few times when the wound would become infected and be given a course of antibiotics. 3 months finally came, saw the podiatrist and was told to go to the ER that I had a pretty serious infection. I was admitted for a few days and met a surgeon who took over my treatment, he provided wound care as well as surgery. I felt very nervous with this doctor as he had no bedside manner whatsoever - typically he would rush in the exam room, debride my wound and leave before I ever had a chance to ask any questions whatsoever. At one point, my foot became infected again the day before I had an appointment with this doctor. I went to the ER, they took cultures and decided that I did indeed have cellulitis, they decided to wait for the doctor's diagnoses before going further.
Testing this doctor the next day, I said nothing about the ER, I wanted him to see my foot which was obviously infected and take action. This did not happen, he said nothing at all and I had to bring it up to him. He still decided not to take action and sent me home. 2 days later I was admitted to the hospital on my own accord. During this stay it was found that I had osteomyelitis (bone infection). Treatment for this, I have since been told is at least 6-8 weeks of IV antibiotics. Firstly, I was not told that I had osteomyelitis, I overhead a nurse state during shift change it was a possibility to the next nurse on shift. I was very surprised when I was discharged and only put on oral antibiotics. No word of the infection ever conveyed to me.
3 weeks later I felt my foot collapsing underneath me. The pain was incredibly intense, it was almost impossible for me to put any weight on this foot without pain shooting up my leg. The next day I had an appointment with this doctor. I explained my pain, he told me he would not give me anything for the pain, to take ibuprofen. I asked if it was possible my foot was broken, he said no, not likely, and did not show any concern whatsoever. I continued to complain about my pain and how difficult it was to walk. I believe he suspected I wanted pain medication as he again told me to take ibuprofen as needed and that he would see me in 3 weeks. I lasted 2 days and wound up in the ER again.
It was discovered that I did indeed break my ankle. This was when I learned for sure that I did have osteomyelitis and since it was not properly treated caused weakening of my bones and caused them to break. I have forgotten to mention due to lack of proper care, my tiny foot wound had grown, this doctor had cut out about 3-4 inches of my heel, along with the bone infection, I also had sepsis when I was admitted this time.
By the time my stay in the hospital was over, this doctor (I was in the process of changing insurance companies, this unfortunately took about 3 months, and I had to endure life with this doctor in the mean time as he was the only one that would see me.) finally had me on IV antibiotics and of course I could not bear any weight on my foot whatsoever. About one month after discharge, he pulled me off IV antibiotics without even testing anything to see if the bone infection was still lingering or not telling me it should be taken care of by now. A month after this, he told me he wanted me to get a graft to heal my wound.
It was around the time I was able to change doctors, while the new doctor was over an hour away it was night/day. This doctor talked with me about my concerns and did the tests necessary to find out that I still indeed had osteomyelitis and had broken my foot in another location since the ankle break. He also let me know that I very well may lose my leg as the previous doctor did not take the wound seriously and took me off antibiotics far too early without doing the necessary tests to ensure that it was taken care of in the first place. In obtaining my medical records, this doctor also has the wrong foot down as the infected foot (left instead of the right).
All in all it has been almost a year since this started, nearly a year since I've been able to work - I've been in and out of the hospital so often it is impossible to keep a job and now I spend 5-6 hours a day with commute in the hyperbaric chamber, not to mention I am on a strong course of antibiotics and with the threat/stress of losing my leg it is impossible to find work to support myself at all. I have been told that this doctor should have done more, had he started me on IV antibiotics when osteomyelitis was detected I would not have broken bones, I would be weight bearing and would not have needed the hyperbaric chamber - essentially, this wound should have healed many months ago and I would be able to work and fully support myself. In the 3 months I have been seeing my new doctor who is following the book for this infection, my wound has practically completely healed, something the other doctor could not accomplish after 6 months of it growing out of control from a very small wound to a gaping wound with exposed bone.
I know that it is difficult to find a lawyer in California for medical malpractice under the best of situations. I am afraid a lawyer would laugh my case out of his office. I am so sorry this is so long, I just feel so much has happened that needs to be stated for this all to make sense. Do I have a case, or should I just let it be as it wouldn't be worth a lawyer's time to take the case on? I feel this doctor caused more harm than good as he really did not treat me whatsoever - his lack of care led to my wound worsening and broken bones, all while he laughed at my pain and told me to take OTC medications. Most importantly, he has me in financial ruin as I try to fix everything that he has done incorrectly. He could not even diagnose a simple wound infection or possible broken ankle!
Thanks in advance for any advice!