Even a doctor can become a victim of medical malpractice. Earlier this month, Dr. Mario Adajar, a Pennsylvania-based doctor, filed a malpractice suit against Dr. Michael Baloga, Jr., a podiatrist at the Foot and Ankle Center in West Pittston and the Wound Healing Center at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital after Dr. Adajar’s foot was amputated due to infection.
Dr. Adajar had sought treatment for callouses and a chronic ulcer. Despite months of treatment, his condition did not improve. In June 2021, Dr. Baloga prescribed a total contact cast for Dr. Adajar. A day later, an infection flared up so severely that Dr. Adajar’s temperature spiked to over 102 degrees. This required an urgent visit to the emergency room. Dr. Adajar fell into septic shock and suffered numerous other health complications, resulting in an emergency surgical amputation of his right leg to save his life.
As a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer, infection cases come across my desk from time to time. In some cases, amputation led to amputation. It is rare, however, when the patient is also a doctor. As with any medical malpractice case, the plaintiff, or person filing the civil suit, will need to prove the defendant doctor deviated from the standard of care and that this deviation caused or contributed to the amputation.
A deviation from the standard of care generally means that the medical care that deviated from what is expected of a particular health profession under the same or similar circumstances. In this case, the article did not specify exactly what is being alleged against the defendant, Dr. Baloga. However, broadly speaking, I’d expect there is an allegation that Defendant failed to properly manage the patient’s foot chronic ulcer, a type of sore, and failed to properly treat the condition. In this instance, part of the treatment included a total contact cast which is sometimes used to treat foot sores. This treatment may or may not have been the right decision. If it was the right decision, the cast may not have been placed properly or it may have been placed too late to be effective.
Another area that will likely be in dispute is causation. In particular, the defendant doctor will likely argue that the infection was due to the patient’s underlying, preexisting foot ulcer caused by vascular disease, or poor blood flow, most likely related to the patient’s underlying Type II diabetes.
Patients with Type II diabetes sometimes develop sores due to poor blood circulation. These vascular problems place patients at higher risk for developing skin sores or ulcers. These sores or ulcers can become infected, particularly if they are not managed properly, and can cause gangrene. In turn, gangrene causes tissue death from a lack of blood flow and can ultimately lead to amputation in order to save the person’s life.
Returning to this case, the defendant will likely argue that the patient’s amputation was inevitable due to patient’s chronic foot ulcer or sore and that contactless foot cast was the proper treatment. However, based on the timing of events, the severe infection leading to a fever seemed to occur within 24 hours or so of the cast being placed.
As a medical malpractice lawyer, I would be curious to know whether this patient should have been placed in a cast to begin with. If it the treatment plan was proper, I wonder if the cast should have been placed sooner or if it was simply placed improperly. The answer to any of these questions would require the use of a medical expert’s testimony. As a practical matter, the patient’s medical malpractice lawyer will probably need to a hire an expert in the defendant doctor’s expertise, podiatry in this case, and some sort of surgeon or vascular specialist to connect the deviation from the standard of care to the severe infection and resulting amputation. The defendant will undoubtably need to also hire one or more experts to refute the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert. How well each expert is able to explain their opinions and the basis of their opinions will go a long way in determining how a jury might decide the case if the case does not settle. The fact that the plaintiff in this case is a doctor, himself, and the fact his injury is the loss of his leg, makes this case unusual and compelling.
By: Jason Kroot of Kroot Law, LLC
Richard, L (2022, February 2). Doctor sues fellow doctor for malpractice after infection leads
to his leg being amputated. New York Post.