WARNER ROBINS -- A Gwinnett County jury has awarded $5 million to a Warner Robins woman whose legs were amputated below her knees the day after she was sent home from the emergency room at Houston Medical Center, a Macon attorney says.
Ellen Wadsworth, 65, came to the emergency room on Thanksgiving Day in 2008 complaining of excruciating pain in both feet, which were also cold to the touch, said Virgil Adams, one of the Macon attorneys representing her. Wadsworth was misdiagnosed with the skin infection cellulitis and discharged, Adams said.
She begged to be admitted. Her son begged for her to be admitted, said Adams. They said they never saw the doctor. They only saw a physicians assistant. The doctor stuck his head in the door and said, We dont admit people for cellulitis.
Adams said a simple test could have found that the arteries in Wadworths legs were blocked behind both knees. Instead, he said, she was told to apply ice to only one leg, and shortly after midnight, she was found unresponsive and all her systems (were) shutting down.
Her son rushed her to the emergency room again, where this time the blockage was found. She was next rushed to a Macon hospital where the correct diagnosis was confirmed.
But the six-hour window in which her legs could have been saved was missed, Adams said. One of two simple tests -- one taking 10 minutes and the other 30 minutes -- could have correctly diagnosed the problem when she first reported to the emergency room, he said.
They managed to save her life, said Adams. Because of not running a 30-minute test that morning, she wound up having both legs amputated.
The damages were awarded against Gregory Howland, the physicians assistant who misdiagnosed her; Dr. Paul Paustian, the physician who signed off on the diagnosis; and Georgia Em-i Medical Services, PC, the company that contracts emergency room physicians for the hospital, Adams said.
All were represented by Atlanta attorneys Alan F. Herman and Jennifer Mills. Mills referred comment to Herman, the senior litigator. He could not be reached for comment.
Jurors heard more than a week of testimony and deliberated for more than two-and-a-half hours Monday before rendering the verdict siding with Wadsworth, Adams said. Wadsworth, a diabetic, was 61 when her legs were amputated.
The jury verdict had not been entered into the court record as of Tuesday afternoon, a clerk said by telephone.
The case was filed in State Court in Gwinnett County because thats where the registered agent for Georgia Em-i Medical Services is based, Adams said.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559. To contact writer Rodney Manley, contact 744-4623.