Broken foot diagnosis leg amputated — A one-foot fracture led to the amputation of part of a young Newfoundland mother’s leg due to late diagnosis.
Samantha Rideout, 30, injured her left foot and knee by falling down a staircase at home last September. Even though she has spina bifida – a malformation of the spine that has caused a loss of sensation in her feet – she was feeling pain in her injured foot, which she reported to the health care professionals of the Health Sciences Center in Saint John where she went.
But despite multiple ER visits and x-rays, four months passed before her foot fracture was diagnosed. It was then too late to save the injured limb: she had to amputate her leg under the knee.
According to Ms. Rideout, the doctor who received her in the emergency department initially focused on her knee as she kept pointing to her foot. He told me “we will come,” she says.
But ultimately, he only ordered X-rays for her knee. The results showed that she had torn cartilage and was advised to simply avoid putting too much weight on her knee.
As she was not accompanied, she decided to walk home, a journey of about twenty minutes. On arriving home, her foot got swollen and covered with bruises. She went back to the emergency room and this time she was given an x-ray.
The result, however, was inconclusive: the doctor on duty told her that the image would be sent to a specialist and that she would be called back.
“I was never called back,” she says.
As she did not receive a call back, Ms. Rideout assumed that her foot was not fractured, even though it continued to hurt her. To avoid pain, she put all her weight, walking, on a specific part of her foot. But then the pain became unbearable and the young woman returned to the hospital, fearing that the leg had become infected.
It was then that fractures appeared on the new X-rays that were made. She was prescribed intravenous antibiotics. She had to come to the hospital every day for treatment.
By mid-November, however, her symptoms worsened. “I felt extremely sick, I had a high fever, I had not eaten for a week, I knew something was wrong!”
She returned to the hospital emergency room and again, she was ordered further x-rays and blood tests. The results stunned her: The doctor came back and told me that everything seemed perfect!
Her foot was red and warm to the touch. The emergency physician still felt that her daily intravenous antibiotic treatment was no longer necessary. She instead was prescribed a week of antibiotics to take orally.
Less than a week later, the intravenous antibiotics were resumed as the infection did not go away and Ms. Rideout was referred to an injury clinic where an orthopedic surgeon took her. charge.
Her treatments have greatly improved from there, she says. The specialist changed her antibiotics and recommended her to use crutches, while doctors had previously told her that they were not needed.
Last January, two months after the start of this treatment, she underwent surgery to try to control the infection on her foot.
“It made me extremely sick: I was vomiting, I had a big fever. I went to see [the specialist] and he had me hospitalized on the spot,” she reports.
An imaging test convinced the specialist to intervene more vigorously to prevent the spread of infection.
He presented her with two options: a partial amputation of the foot that would not necessarily end the infection or a more radical amputation below the knee.
Faced with this draconian choice, Samantha Ridout, mother of three young children, chose the one that would put an end to the infection once and for all.
My children played a lot in the decision. I had to be there for them. I am a single mother, so they have only me in the world, she explains.
She underwent amputation in March. She has been getting accustomed little by little to her new life and is waiting for the prosthesis which will facilitate her movements.
Even if it will not replace her leg, she wants a form of justice against a health system that she says could have saved her foot if she had been well cared for from the start.
The day [my orthopedic surgeon] told me [about amputation], he told me that I probably had a bone infection right from the start and that she did not that get worse with time.
In response, the Eastern Newfoundland Health Authority responded that the privacy rules prevent her from talking about Ms. Rideout’s case.
In a written statement, however, the authority says her priority is to provide quality patient care.
When a patient comes to one of our facilities, they are met by trained staff to assess their condition and prescribe the best treatment options that apply to the circumstances, she writes.
Samantha Rideout, on the other hand, encourages people to fight when they feel that their health problems are not taken seriously.
“If we do not listen to you, find someone who will,” she concludes.