Orthopaedic surgery or procedures are specifically to do with the bones. This could range from surgery to correct a broken foot, to a full hip replacement. Where negligence does occur, the consequences can leave the pursuer with severe and perhaps lifelong mobility issues. It sometimes becomes apparent after a procedure that it was never necessary in the first place due to misdiagnoses. Where a case for negligence is appropriate, the pursuer has 3 years from the date of the procedure or 3 years from the date the issue presented itself. Where the procedure has resulted in the death of the patient, the spouse or immediate family may raise a claim within 3 years of death.
There are two main factors leading to an amputation caused by medical negligence
In many cases of negligence regarding orthopaedic matters, the issue was initially caused in an accident and emergency department. Common issues include:
Misdiagnosed breaks and fractures – this can lead to mobility issues or preventable disabilities, as the window to treat such injuries is limited. This can also lead to unnecessary surgery being performed.
Achilles tendon ruptures – are a fairly common injury that often heal on their own over time. If misdiagnosed however, the injury can lead to permanent weakness and reduced function in the affected ankle.
Hip and spinal injury – due to the nature of spinal or hip problems, any complication can lead to very serious mobility issues for the patient. It can be that fractures of both are misdiagnosed in accident and emergency. Misdiagnoses in such areas can also be worse due to the complex nature of surgery to correct issues.
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As with any type of surgical procedure, orthopaedic surgeries carry risk. It can however sometimes be the case that the procedure performed is incorrect or unnecessary altogether. Some examples include:
Knee and Hip Replacements – this is where a damaged joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic. This is generally a successful procedure. There can be avoidable complications such as ill-fitting prosthetics, broken or damaged femur caused by excessive or unnecessary force when operating and in some cases even discrepancy in the length of the leg after surgery.
Spinal Surgery – This is a very complex and specialist area of surgery. The spine controls many different functions within the body, and has different levels and regions. Negligence can occur where the surgery performed has been on the incorrect level or region of the spine, as this would then be the part of the spine that controlled something entirely different than intended. It can also be that negligence occurs because of incorrect imaging or interpretation. In order to get a clear image of the spine, an x-ray often isn’t detailed enough. Even with an MRI it can be difficult to read.
There are more minor Orthopaedic issues that can arise, and subsequently be misdiagnosed including osteoarthritis, tears, sprains and strains. This may not lead to the same serious complications as spinal or surgical issues, but it can still lead to loss of revenue and mobility on a temporary basis. Claims for such issues can still be raised within the above timeframes.
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