Unnecessary Podiatric Bunion Surgery (Hohmann Osteotomy) to Treat Bunion $400,000 Settlement (IL)

A female plaintiff alleged that the podiatrist-defendant had deviated from the podiatric standard of care by performing a Hohmann osteotomy that involved cutting through the right great toe bone to treat the plaintiff's mild bunion. The plaintiff also contended that the defendant was negligent by advising the patient that she could partially bare weight on the foot  four days following the surgery.

The plaintiff maintained that based on pre-operative X-rays and findings, a Hohmann osteotomy was not indicated since the pre-operative intermetatarsal angle was nine degrees which was normal.  It was further contended that the technique used to fixate the bones was unstable resulting in a malunion and hallux elevatus (elevation) along with shortening of the toe and of the foot. The plaintiff maintained that, despite consulting with over ten different doctors and undergoing six surgical revisions in her continuing efforts to have her right foot deformity and some residual sequelae corrected, she will permanently suffer pain, disfigurement, and disability. The plaintiff incurred $ 120,000.00 in lost income and $ 55,913in medical expenses.

The defendant contended that plaintiff's intermetatarsal angle was abnormally large, that it warranted the Hohmann procedure and that the procedure was well-recognized and accepted. He further contended that if he had only shaved the bunion down that it was likely to return. He also contended that plaintiff contributed to her own injury by stepping onto a step ladder to paint and by dropping a hair dryer on her foot. The plaintiff would have responded that she only got up on the first step with her left foot, did not put any pressure on the right foot and that the hair dryer was a small, travel size dryer that she dropped onto the top of her foot, not onto any of her toes.

Result: The case settled, at mediation, shortly before trial, for $ 400,000.

Plaintiff's Expert: Harold Schoenhaus, DPM, Philadelphia, PA

Defendant's Expert: Louis A. Sorto, Jr., DPM, Chicago, IL

Source: National Jury Verdict Review & Analysis, Volume 23, Issue 2