KCK woman and Saint Luke’s clinic disagree over what caused her chronic health problem

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A Kansas City, Kan. woman says treatment she received at a hospital clinic caused a chronic health problem. The clinic claims the woman was really seeing progression of a problem she already had.

Linda Rumney uses paper to slide compression garments onto her swollen legs.

"So for the rest of my life, I'll have to wear them," said Rumney.

She never imagined it would be this way, even when she had swelling in her ankles. The diagnosis was venous insufficiency or poor blood flow.

Last year, at Saint Luke's vein clinic, she began treatments that included a laser and small incisions to remove bad veins. She says she noticed a change about three weeks after her first treatments.

"I noticed that there was gross swelling of my feet, my legs and my ankles," said Rumney.

She says the skin became red and hard, too. It was lymphedema, excess lymph fluid collecting in tissue.

"For me, it's been a living hell. It truly has been," she said.

She believes the vein treatments, which she continued to have, caused lymphedema.

"My problem is they should have stopped when I kept saying 'Look at these legs. Look at what's happening. Look at how they're swelling'," said Rumney.

Saint Luke's points to consent forms that Rumney signed for those treatments. And her doctor says it wasn't the treatments that caused lymphedema. Dr. Laura Schmidt believes Linda already had it as a result of her vein problems.

" I think the lymphedema continued to progress through the course of our treatments and she was getting to the point that she had more complex and difficult-to-treat lymphedema," said Dr. Schmidt.

FOX 4 contacted the American College of Phlebology, a professional organization for doctors who treat vein disease and lymphedema. Dr. Armen Roupenian, who practices in Alaska, told us it is "extremely uncommon" for vein treatments to cause lymphedema.

Dr. Schmidt says the treatments may help lymphedema.

"I'm sorry she's disappointed with her results, but I'm confident what we did was appropriate management for her underlying venous disease," said the doctor.

"It's a life-altering condition. I will have this for the rest of my life," said Rumney.

She says the condition has improved with physical therapy, but she'll still need to wear compression garments, and she's paid more than $1,000 out-of-pocket for them so far. She says she asked Saint Luke's for compensation and it was denied.