Doctor Sued for Five-Toe Amputations

     SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (CN) – A doctor amputated all the toes on a woman’s foot despite warnings from her primary physician that the woman is schizophrenic and her toes were healthy, the patient claims in court.
     Susan Phillips sued Dr. Jessica Shaw and S.F. Foot Specialist PLLC dba Sioux Falls Foot Specialists, on Monday in Minnehaha County Court.
     According to the lawsuit, Shaw wanted to amputate all 10 of Phillips’s toes. Shaw is a doctor of podiatry.
     Phillips’s primary physician, Dr. Tara Geis, learned of Shaw’s plans on Sept. 8, 2014, according to the complaint. Geis is not a party to the lawsuit.
     On Sept. 8, according to the complaint, “Dr. Geis learned that Susan had met with Shaw, who was recommending that Susan have all of her toes amputated.”
     The complaint continues: “Dr. Geis was quite concerned about Shaw’s suggested amputation and recommended against the proposed surgery as Susan’s toes were healthy, necessary for balance and walking and the amputation surgery may cause increased pain.”
     But Geis learned on Oct. 31 – Halloween – that Shaw had scheduled Phillips for surgery. She called Shaw again, told her that Phillips suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and fibromyalgia, that her toes were healthy, she was not diabetic, and she “specifically told Shaw that Susan was incapable of giving informed consent to the proposed amputation procedure,” according to the complaint.
     Citing Dr. Geis’s Oct. 31 notes, the lawsuit claims that “she is only going to straighten a toe with an upcoming surgery.” The notes add: “Dr. Shaw states she understands that Susan has mental illness and [is] ‘not normal.'”
     A second doctor was with Geis during the call, and also provided notes for the lawsuit.
     Nonetheless, Shaw amputated all the toes from Phillips’s right foot on Nov. 19, “in addition to the metatarsal bones that compose the forefoot of Susan’s right foot,” according to the complaint.
     The lawsuit claims that Shaw told her patient “that amputation of her toes would allow Susan to fit into footwear properly and would relieve all of Susan’s foot pain.”
     But in fact, now “Susan has increased pain, phantom pain, severe disfigurement, poor balance and can no longer walk effectively,” the complaint states. In addition, “Susan cannot wear any shoe, has become sedentary and is susceptible to blood clotting and other adverse conditions.”
     Geis reported Shaw to the South Dakota attorney general.
     “It’s sad that when a person is injured by their doctors, they go home to suffer or even die rather than lobby the Legislature,” Phillips’s attorney Timothy James told Courthouse News. “They really have no voice other than litigation.”
     Phillips seeks punitive damages for medical negligence, battery, fraudulent misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     Dr. Shaw and Sioux Falls Foot Specialists did not respond to requests for comment.
     Attorney James is with James & Larson Law, of Yankton, S.D.

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