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Sunday, February 18th 2007

Doctors Are Learning Odd Lessons…

…like: don’t treat people who are both careless and obese (h/t Overlawyered).


This Guy Could Burn Himself At Any Moment!

A surgeon up in Massachusetts gets a million dollar verdict against him, over a self inflicted burn,

In June 2001, Olanyk was referred back to Bookwalter with burns on his foot.

Olanyk, who is diabetic, apparently burned his left toe with a heating pad and didn’t realize it, Lesser said.

Court documents show that Bookwalter saw the burn and noted in his chart that “this is a very threatening thing for Charlie. This foot is at risk if it gets infected.”

He gets topical prescription antibiotics, but we don’t know what the treatment regimen was. This guy doesn’t seem like the smartest, most competent cookie from the short history we have, but we have no sense of compliance. The article merely jumps straight to,

His left leg was then amputated below the knee.

The lawsuit faults Bookwalter for the amputation and after-effects.

“Our allegation was that he should have been sent to a burn doctor,” Lesser said. “Instead, a conservative treatment was followed.”

Dr. Bookwalter has a humorous summary,

“In the end, everybody’s health care costs go up because this guy couldn’t take care of himself,” said Bookwalter.

I don’t really buy Dr. Bookwalter’s position. It is ironic where a man whose choices led to his own injury (the self inflicted burn) and complications (obesity —> diabetes) and finally his amputation, actually sues a physician. But obviously treatment rendered to self inflicted injuries and diseases shouldn’t be immune from suits if negligence is present.

And obviously this article provides little in the way to judge the suit, except to say with such risk factors for amputation as the plantiff had the jury better have heard STRONG evidence that the standard of care WITHOUT ANY DISSENT in the physician community would’ve been to refer the plantiff to a “burn doctor.”

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