Muncie, IN asked in Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury for Indiana

Q: Am I able to sue some medical providers for malpractice for leaving staples in my foot?

I broke my foot. My foot was operated on by an orthopedic surgeon and a plastic surgeon. I was originally informed that they would be cutting my foot open and taking a piece of skin from my thigh to do a skin graft. However, they actually just cut some skin off the top of my foot to cover up the exposed bones and tissue. Both physicians followed my care until my foot “healed.” The plastic surgeon was the first person to give me a clean bill of health. The orthopedic surgeon who continued following my care after that had done X-rays on my foot and said everything looked great. Also, shortly after my surgery I began seeing a podiatrist who specialized in wound care. He followed my care every month and performed X-rays. After awhile my foot wasn’t healing properly. My podiatrist kept giving me dates that I’d be fully functional again, but it never happened. My parents advised me to get a second opinion, so I contacted a new podia

2 Lawyer Answers
Charles Candiano
Charles Candiano
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: The simple answer to your question is yes. Unfortunately, you can sue nearly anyone for nearly anything. If your real question is whether you have a viable claim (one where you will probably recover more money than you will spend), it is unclear without many more details. "Staples" can be large, exterior Staples that are intended to be removed and are readily visible on x-rays. Staples can also be smaller clips that are used internally. These clips can be made from biodegradable materials which may not be visible on x-rays or they can be made from titanium which would be visible on x-rays. Neither the biodegradable nor the titanium clips are intended to be removed.

You do not tell us what kind of Staples were "left" in your foot nor do you offer any explanation as to how they escape notice on the multiple x-rays that were taken. You also do not tell us what problem resulted from your doctor's failure to remove the staple that you claim should have been removed. If the scenario is that a subsequent doctor found a staple that should have been removed; he/she removed the staple; and any symptoms related to the staple resolved, you have no damages.

So, assuming that your doctor should have removed a staple that he did not remove and failure to remove that staple delayed your ability to heal by several months, your doctor committed malpractice by failing to remove the staple but you suffered no permanent injury. No harm no foul. On your facts, at least three physicians performed multiple x-rays but none of the doctors noticed the remaining staple. If a staple is such that it needs to be removed, removal is the responsibility of the surgeon who placed it. That said, it doesn't help your case that at least three doctors failed to see it. Moreover, the foot is not a fleshy part of the body. It is difficult to conceive where a staple could have been placed in the foot without being readily apparent to both the naked eye and to touch (assuming it is the type of staple that is intended to be removed). Once you prove that a doctor has committed malpractice by violating the standard of care that you were due, you must additionally demonstrate some permanent injury. If you believe that you have suffered some permanent injury, I urge you to discuss the details of your matter with a local medical malpractice attorney. They will probably want to see your medical records. If you prepare a brief timeline and provide the medical records, you may find more people who are willing to speak with you. Most attorneys provide initial consults without a fee. On its face, this is not a case that would have much perceived value and most attorneys would be reluctant to invest the time and money to Order medical records. Good luck.

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Medical Malpractice Lawyer
  • Little Neck, NY

A: Your question involves considerable medical detail, as well as three different medical providers. To meaningfully answer your question, an attorney might want to consult with a medical professional(s). Good luck

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