FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A jury in Allen Superior Court awarded a Fort Wayne woman more than $2.6 million in damages Thursday for a botched medical procedure that left her with a disfigured and virtually unusable lower right leg.
Initially filed in 2014, the lawsuit stemmed from when Zandra A. Chapman went to the now torn down St. Joseph Hospital for a cardiac catheterization procedure back in 2012.
A cardiac catheterization is a roughly 30- or 40-minute procedure where a doctor puts a catheter into a blood vessel of someone’s arm or leg and then into coronary arteries, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Doctors use this to find problems with a patient’s heart.
According to the lawsuit filed by Chapman, Dr. Shashi Ahuja mishandled a then relatively new device to perform the procedure and negligently left a polymer in an artery in her right leg.
After the procedure, Chapman began to experience intense pain in her right calf that became increasingly worse as the days went by.
Despite calls to Ahuja’s office, the lawsuit said, she was never told to come in for an evaluation.
Three days after the procedure, Chapman went to an emergency room where a doctor performed surgery and found “a small amount of glistening” foreign material in an artery in her leg, court documents said.
According to court documents, this material caused Chapman’s artery to be occluded and develop at least one blood clot. Later, doctors determined the material had been left in Chapman’s femoral artery before it traveled to another artery and became lodged, according to court documents.
The doctor made two attempts to restore blood flow to the artery but failed, court documents said.
Despite extensive treatment, Chapman’s right lower leg became greatly disfigured to the point it causes her great embarrassment, court documents said.
“Both the strength and sensation in her right lower extremity are greatly diminished,” court documents said. “She has a right foot drop and has been fitted with an AFO (ankle foot-orthosis) to lessen the symptoms associated with the foot drop when she walks.”
“Her right leg is constantly swollen,” court documents continue. “Her activities of daily life have been significantly impaired by the deficits in her right leg.”
The lawsuit wound its way through the court system for more than eight years. Other entities sued by Chapman included an anonymous doctor as well as the makers of the device Ahuja used in the procedure that caused her disfigurement.
Ultimately, all defendants were dropped until only Ahuja remained, according to court records. Earlier this month a 10-day jury trial commenced. On the final day of the trial, Ahuja’s legal team first asked the presiding judge to rule in his favor based on the evidence presented.
The jury, though, came back with a verdict at about 7:30 p.m. that night.
They found Ahuja negligent and awarded Chapman $2,670,000 in damages, according to court records.