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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Man sues doctor, PMC for allegedly misdiagnosing broken toe as gout

A man has filed a medical malpractice against a doctor and the Pacific Medical Center Corp. for allegedly misdiagnosing his broken big toe as gout.

Jose I. Quitugua is suing Dr. Ahmed Al-Alou, Pacific Medical Center Corp., and 10 unnamed employees of PMC, for negligence-medical malpractice.

Quitugua, through attorney Timothy H. Bellas, is demanding unspecified damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs. He asked the Superior Court for a jury trial in his lawsuit.

Saipan Tribune repeatedly tried yesterday to reach Al-Alou and PMC for comment but no one answered their phone.

Bellas stated in the complaint that Quitugua went to PMC in Gualo Rai on Jan. 7, 2013, complaining of pain and swelling in his right knee. Bellas said that Al-Alou diagnosed Quitugua as suffering from gout and prescribed medication to treat it.

During a follow-up consultation two days later, the doctor adjusted the medications prescribed to Quitugua since they had alleviated the pain.

On March 1, 2013, Bellas said that Quitugua injured the big toe on his right foot at his home after accidentally hitting it against a door jamb.

Three days later, Quitugua went to PMC and spoke to an employee, whom he told about the injury to his toe. Bellas said the employee did not accurately document his complaint and instead told him to tell Al-Alou about it.

Bellas said that Quitugua told Al-Alou about the injury and showed him his big toe. The doctor touched the toe and allegedly diagnosed the problem as gout and prescribed the drug Colcrys.

On March 8, Quitugua returned for consultation since the pain had not been relieved. The doctor prescribed another gout medication, Indomethacin.

After taking the medicine for 20 days, the pain did not subside. Instead, the skin around the injured toe turned black and the plaintiff experienced stomach pains, muscle weakness and dizziness.

Bellas said that Quitugua returned to PMC on March 28, and the doctor continued to diagnose his condition as a case of gout of the right foot, big toe and requested that he provide a specimen of blood for diagnostic testing. Quitugua provided a blood sample to the lab on April 16.

Experiencing no relief from the pain and other symptoms, Quitugua decided to seek another opinion by consulting Dr. Osborne of the Saipan Health Clinic.

Bellas said that Osborne immediately had Quitugua’s right big toe x-rayed and, upon review of the x-ray, determined that the pain and swelling were not due to gout but a broken toe. Osborne immediately immobilized the toe using a splint and bandages. However, due to the substantial passage of time without proper immobilization, the toe had fused improperly.

“As a result of such misdiagnosis, plaintiff’s injury was not properly treated and he suffered more injury to his toe because it has healed incorrectly,” Bellas said.

As a result, Quitugua will suffer permanent injury to his right big toe, Bellas added.

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