The unusual story begins up on a roof. That is where former Coast Guard officer and National Guardsman Timothy Kuncl was in late 2011 to hang strings of Christmas lights. Unfortunately, he slipped and fell to a concrete driveway below, shattering his lower right tibia.
Kuncl underwent three surgeries at a VA hospital over the next two and a half years. VA surgeons installed and removed metal plates and screws were in efforts to heal the damage with bone grafts. The efforts backfired, however, making the pain in his leg intensify rather than recede. In December of 2014, Kuncl could no longer take the pain. He went to a private surgeon to have the limb amputated.
The amputated portion of the leg was not disposed of, as is typically the case. Instead, Kuncl donated it to a nonprofit organization to be used in the training of rescue dogs. So the amputated piece was frozen, thawed, used in the training, and then refrozen over and over.
Today, that piece of Kuncl is key evidence in his effort to prove that substandard care at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospital caused the loss of the leg.
Kuncl alleges that negligence by the VA's doctors resulted in an orthopedic screw being inappropriately placed in his ankle, with the tip of the screw protruding from the bone. That surgical error apparently caused more damage to nerves and intensified the pain.
A trial is scheduled later this year, according to a report in the Seattle Times.
While we do not know what the outcome of the case will be, we do know that medical malpractice litigation is one of the few ways negligent doctors and hospitals can be held accountable. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a VA doctor or hospital, you can contact our San Antonio, Texas, law firm. We represent clients across the nation.