Types of Orthopaedics Negligence Claims
The main type of orthopaedic negligence is as a result of mistakes during surgery, for example spinal surgery negligence can result in paralysis and careless foot, ankle or hip surgery (for example mismatched hip replacements) can affect the ability to walk. In surgical sports medicine this can be career-limiting. Badly performed procedures such as a poorly fitted medical implants, prosthesis or grafts that have not been applied correctly, can substantially reduce quality of life. For some patients, surgery is completed in the wrong location (‘wrong site surgery’ such as the wrong knee or eye), resulting in additional surgery and recovery time, as well as significant distress.
Treatment complications may arise resulting in the need for further treatment, for example thrombosis (blood clotting) or pseudoaneurysms (injury to a blood vessel wall). Sometimes, unnecessary surgery is performed on a broken bone. Delayed diagnosis of fractures/broken bones can have severe repercussions for patients with the metabolic disorder diabetes; problems with bone healing mean this could lead to a permanent disability. In musculoskeletal oncology negligence, misdiagnosis of bone tumours can be life threatening. Paediatric orthopaedics complications are a particularly distressing area as there is the added worry about the long-term effects on your child’s life, for example a missed diagnosis of a bone fracture could result in uneven bone growth.
Secondary treatment mistakes often arise due to substandard aftercare following orthopaedic surgery. For instance, if a tourniquet has been applied for overly long periods of time, resulting in tissue damage and subsequent amputation of an appendage (finger, toe, hand, leg) or entire limb. Other post-operative complications include infections, long-term pain, muscle damage and nerve damage (from poorly administered injections). Some claims also deal with surgery where informed consent was not obtained. There may even be a failure to identify ‘red flag’ symptoms which would indicate an imminent medical emergency such as cauda equina syndrome (compressed lumbar spine nerve roots), resulting in a devastating injury or significant disability.