Malpractice Questions Raised in Kansas High School Football Player’s Leg Amputation

When Trevor Roberts’ leg bones snapped during a high school football game near Wichita, Kansas, he received the standard orthopedic treatment: a resetting of the bones with a titanium rod to hold them in place. So why did he have to have an above-the-knee amputation because of gangrene six days later?

The surgeon who had to remove most of the boy’s leg, Dr. Archie Heddings at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, told USA Today he thought the health care system had failed Roberts in some way.

Dr. Heddings told the newspaper:

“To me, in all honesty, I think this is a failure of the doctor-hospital system. I don’t want to impugn anybody. But … one of the first things you’re supposed to do when there’s an open fracture is get tetanus and antibiotics. Then, you take that person to the operating room and you get out all the dirt, you get out all the bone that doesn’t have soft tissue attached to it – that’s dead bone – and you take out all the dead muscle. And then if there’s any question 48 hours later, you take the patient back to the operating room and look at the wound and make sure there’s no dead muscle. If there is dead muscle, those bacteria have something they can reproduce in. And they’ll … start wreaking havoc.”

From the newspaper’s account, the first surgery to put the leg back together occurred at a Wichita hospital on the same Friday night as the injury. The 17-year-old was sent to his home near Lawrence, Kansas on the following Sunday. Then he had a high fever and went to another hospital in Lawrence two days later. It’s not clear what happened at that visit, but he didn’t get definitive care until two more days when he was back in the Lawrence hospital with another fever and a blistered foot. That brought him to the care of the surgeon in Kansas City who told the young man he had to amputate to save his life.

An investigation is under way to get to the bottom of this sad story.

Read the whole newspaper account by clicking here.

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