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Northeast High football player blames doctors after losing leg in on-field injury

in Local Courts by
Leshawn Williams (photo via Samantha Verdisco | Robinson High)

A high school football player claims negligent hospital staff is the reason doctors were forced to amputate his leg after an on-field injury in 2014.

The player, 20-year-old Leshawn Williams and his mother, Bonita Copeland, 47, are suing John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, along with seven doctors, a physician assistant, the Children’s Orthopedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates, and Allegiant MD of Florida.

The parties face a combined total of 48 counts.

The suit claims Williams did not receive adequate, timely medical treatment at the two hospitals he was taken to.

Williams was a 17-year-old senior at the time of his injury. He played for the Northeast High School Vikings on the defensive line.

On Oct. 24, 2014, Northeast High School faced Clearwater High in Clearwater. During the first half, Williams overextended his right knee. After feeling a pop, he fell to the ground in pain.

At around 9 p.m., emergency services were called to Clearwater. They transported Williams and his mother to All Children’s Hospital. On the trip, personnel noted a pulse in Williams’ right foot.

At 10 p.m. he arrived at the hospital and was in stable condition.

Dr. Ernest Rehnke operated twice on Leshawn Williams

The first doctor didn’t see Williams until nearly 30 minutes later. The doctor ordered an X-ray and pain medication. It wasn’t until 11:50 p.m. that an orthopedic consult was ordered.

The initial doctor’s shift had ended; he left the hospital without completing necessary procedures to ensure Williams’ proper care.

Williams laid in the hospital bed until around 2:30 a.m., when a physician assistant came in response to the orthopedic consult ordered earlier that night. The new emergency room physician examined the back of his knee. However, a neurovascular assessment hadn’t yet been completed.

Just after 4 a.m., the supervising orthopedist decided to transport Williams across the street to Bayfront. Around 5 a.m. — seven hours after his arrival – Williams was transported via tunnel to the neighboring hospital.

By 8 a.m., Williams was in surgery. It did not go well.

Williams was unable to move his toes. Despite this, no steps were taken at that time to examine his leg further.

An hour later, doctors ordered a CT; medical staff failed to perform the scan until four hours after that.

To save his leg, Williams was returned to surgery at 7:30 p.m. After the completing the procedure, the surgeon did not re-evaluate Williams’ leg, even though nurses reported the absence of a pulse.

Two days after the accident, doctors determined his leg couldn’t be saved; amputation was the only option.

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