Bruce Panczner sued Great Western Adventures, of Woody Creek, and Aspen-based Dr. Lesley A. Fraser, on April 26 in Federal Court.
Panczner, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, claims Great Western Adventures sent him off with two friends on a 12-mile snowmobile tour without warning him that the snowmobile might not be “powerful enough for the current snow conditions.” And when he finally made it to the hospital, he says, Dr. Fraser failed to save his toes and forefeet from frostbite.
Panczner and his friends rented three snowmobiles from Great Western Adventures in Woody Creek in February 2016. The snowmobiles became stuck in snow before they reached the hut at the end of their route, and they were stranded overnight. They were rescued by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department at 10 a.m., and Panczner was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where he was placed under the care of Dr. Fraser.
He claims that though there was an obvious problem with his feet, Fraser didn’t act quickly enough to reverse damage from the frostbite.
“Even though Panczner’s feet looked worse after being rewarmed, Dr. Fraser offered him no remedial treatment other than prophylaxis for blood clots,” the complaint states.
It continues: “During the time Panczner was at Aspen Valley Hospital, he researched frostbite treatment and read that tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) treatment, used frequently at University of Colorado Hospital’s Burn Center, significantly decreases the likelihood of amputation to extremities if administered within 24 hours of injury.”
Panczner says he had to insist that Fraser contact the University of Colorado Burn Center about the tPA treatment, until the doctor “finally” acquiesced.
“Panczner was transported by Flight-For-Life to the University of Colorado Hospital and arrived in the afternoon of February 11, 2016. Unfortunately, because of the delay caused by Dr. Fraser, Panczner arrived outside of the 24-hour window in which tPA treatment can be beneficially administered to frostbite victims,” the complaint states.
“Ultimately, the emergency medical treatment at University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Hospital was unsuccessful, and all of the toes and parts of the forefoot on both feet had to be amputated.”
Panczner is represented by Anthony Viorst of Denver, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Panczner seeks economic damages for medical expenses and lost income, and damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life.
Western Adventures did not respond to a request for comment.