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INSURANCE COMPANY’S FAILURE TO AUTHORIZE TREATMENT RESULTING IN AMPUTATION

Medical malpractice action was brought against corporate medical provider based on alleged failure to provide patient with aggressive treatment of his diabetes, resulting in amputation of his leg.

TERRY, Associate Judge.

This is a medical malpractice case originally brought by James and Eunice Robinson against Group Health Association ("GHA"), a corporate medical care provider. Appellants claimed that the failure of GHA to provide Mr. Robinson with aggressive treatment of his diabetes in October 1989, when he visited GHA complaining of an ulcer on his foot, resulted in the amputation of his leg below the knee in January 1990. They asserted that a proper response by GHA would have resulted in a far less debilitating treatment and would have saved Mr. Robinson's leg and most of his foot. We conclude that the testimony of Dr. Singer, as it related to the issue of proximate cause, was sufficient to allow the case to go to the jury. According to Dr. Singer, the failure of GHA to refer Mr. Robinson for vascular evaluation in October or November resulted in his below-the-knee amputation in January. Dr. Singer testified to "a reasonable degree of medical certainty," which he equated to a greater than fifty percent chance ("more likely than not," to use Prosser's words), that if there had been an early vascular consult, followed by an angioplasty and perhaps a partial foot amputation, a below-the-knee amputation could have been avoided. Although GHA presented contrary testimony from Dr. Goldberg, Dr. Singer's testimony was sufficient to permit "a reasonable juror [to] find that there was a direct and substantial causal relationship between [GHA's] breach of the standard of care and [Mr. Robinson's] injuries.

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