Suit Claims Leg Required Amputation After Fracture Went Untreated For Three Months

The wife of a patient at Highland Health Care Center has filed a personal injury suit against the center, two doctors, Mobilex USA, and Covenant Care, claiming that her husband had to have his left fractured leg amputated after it went untreated for more than two months.

According to the suit filed in Illinois’ Madison County Circuit Court on May 29 by Myrna Ambuehl, the attorney-in-fact for and wife of Roland Ambuehl, he fell from his bed and sustained a femoral fracture to his left leg on June 3, 2007.

The suit says that Ambuehl told the staff that he had been experiencing pain in his left leg and knee after the fall. Mobilex was hired by Highland on June 4, 2007 to x-ray his pelvis and left knee.

The x-rays were then sent to two staff doctors for Mobilex, defendants Donald Lanese and Elliot Wagner. The suit says both concluded the x-rays were negative for any fractures.

Ambuehl’s wife claims that over the next two weeks, he continued to complain of pain in his left knee, which had begun to swell and appear red.

The suit says that despite his complaints, Ambuehl was forced by Highland to exercise and participate in physical therapy and other physical activities for two weeks immediately following the fall.

Mobilex was asked by Highland to x-ray Ambuehl’s leg on June 21, 2007. This time the x-rays were only sent to Lanese, who once again said there were no fractures, according to the suit.

However, the suit says, Ambuehl continued to experience constant pain and increased swelling around his left knee while still participating in physical therapy. The suit says that he also suffered a diminished appetite and rapid weight loss and the knee soon became so inflamed that he was no longer able to stand or walk.

Ambuehl’s wife says that in early August, she requested than his knee be examined by an orthopedic surgeon. Instead, Highland once again hired Mobilex to x-ray his leg and sent the x-rays to Lanese, who once again said there were no fractures, according to the suit.

However, after the third report from Lanese, Ambuehl’s treating physician, Dr. Scott Halvorson, examined him and concluded that the left femur was indeed fractured, the suit says.

The suit says Halvorson consulted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Timothy Penn, who determined that the fracture was greatly displaced and that three months without treatment had caused parts of it to protrude into the soft tissues of the knee, resulting in callous formations and a breakdown of the surrounding tissue.

The suit says Penn determined the risk of infection to far outweigh and chance of recovery and Ambuehl had his knee amputated at Anderson Hospital on August 15, 2007, according to his wife.

The suit claims that before the amputation, Ambuehl experienced ongoing pain, depression, a continued decrease in appetite, and weight loss.

Myrna Ambuehl seeks damages in excess of $250,000, plus attorney’s fees, costs, and other relief deemed just by the court, from the five-count suit.

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