Patient sues GW, alleges negligence in failure to diagnose leg infections

A patient is suing GW for $10 million alleging doctors failed to identify and treat two infected masses on his right leg that corroded tissue down to his bone.

In a nine-page complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court Thursday, Mark Thomas alleges doctors at the GW Hospital passed off two swollen masses on his right leg as hematoma – bleeding around a blood vessel that causes bruising – instead of heeding Thomas’ requests in 2016 and 2017 to inspect the spots more closely. Thomas alleges that after multiple inquiries, a surgeon referred to as “Dr. Abel” found the masses to be interconnected abscesses, swollen pockets of pus, that had been eroding tissue in Thomas’ leg over time.

“The Defendants, and each or any of them, deviated from the standard of care in the medical care and treatment provided to Plaintiff, were negligent, reckless and careless and breached the duties imposed upon them and caused the injuries suffered by the Plaintiff,” the complaint states.

Thomas is suing the University, Medical Faculty Associates, the GW Hospital and Universal Health Services, the hospital’s majority owner.

University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal, MFA spokeswoman Barbara Porter, GW Hospital spokeswoman Susan Griffiths and UHS did not return requests for comment. Thomas could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit states that Thomas first consulted GW Hospital about the two swollen masses – one on his right thigh and one near his right knee – on May 6, 2016, when doctors performed an ultrasound and told Thomas they thought the formations were hematoma. After increased discomfort and fluid release from the swelling, Thomas asked about the two masses on Jan. 5 and 19, 2017 because of his concern that they were interconnected, the complaint states.

Thomas alleges doctors declined to inspect or treat the swelling on his right thigh despite his request to check if the two masses were connected.

The lawsuit states the masses first appeared after Thomas received screws and a plate, inserts that hold a bone in place, following a right leg fracture prior to his treatment at GW Hospital.

Thomas alleges that GW Hospital doctors performed blood work, X-rays, fluid drainage and an ultrasound on the mass near his right knee on Jan. 5, 2017 without doing the same to the mass on his thigh, even though Thomas was concerned about the swellings’ connection.

The lawsuit states that Thomas’s concerns were not investigated until a CT evaluation on Feb. 21 found “three interconnecting deep abscesses” that required surgical removal. Thomas underwent surgery on April 7, which revealed that the abscess had destroyed tissue in his right leg all the way down to his bone, the complaint states.

Thomas alleges the defendants failed to conduct the treatment needed to diagnose the infected masses and inform him of the complications the treatment’s delay caused.

“Defendants, inter alia, failed to perform necessary studies and scans from April 2016 until Feb. 21, 2017, thus missing the diagnosis of the multiple abscess pockets, inordinately delaying necessary treatment and resulting in permanent injury to Plaintiff,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit states Thomas required additional treatment and hospitalization after two more operations since his April 2017 surgery, which caused physical and financial damage. Doctors later removed Thomas’ screw and plate from his prior leg fracture treatment and installed two wound vacs, used to close a wound, the complaint states.

“Plaintiff, with no negligence on his own part, suffered personal injuries and damages, suffered emotional pain and was caused to incur hospital and extraordinary medical expenses and loss of earnings,” the complaint states.

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