One of the most significant advances in orthopedic treatment during the 20th century according to the members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, was the ability to internally fix bones through the use of plates, screws, rods, etc. When an orthopedic expert employs methods such as these to correct a patient's musculoskeletal problems, the patient usually ends up finding an improvement in their condition. But this unfortunately is not the case every time around.
Orthopedic medicine is a specialty sphere that like other areas of medicine, are also subject to medical negligence and error. A misdiagnosis in orthopedics or orthopedic malpractice usually occurs when a general physician who is unfamiliar with orthopedic ailments, tried to treat a patient.
Orthopedic surgery ranked fifth in medical specialties in 2010, for both the number of claims that resulted in financial payoff for plaintiffs and the number of lawsuits filed. Amongst the top five allegations made by patients were the following:
- 52% improper performance during surgery
- 14% error in diagnosis
- 8% failure to recognize complications during treatment
- 6% failure to monitor or supervise a case
- 20% additional allegations
Some of the most common orthopedic malpractice lawsuits pertain to procedures affecting the lumbar spine (lower back), or hip fracture repairs. Other orthopedic errors include misreading X-rays; joint replacement procedures; plates or rods; improper use of bone screws, failure to properly realign bones; disregarding patient complaints of pain, failure to appropriately monitor healing; loss of sensation or loss of mobility.
Usually a patient's condition is misdiagnosed if a physician does not recommend an X-ray in time or misreads the results of an X-ray. When this happens, it could lead to an undiagnosed malfunction or skeletal fracture, which could also cause long-term damage to the patient. An injury such as a hairline fracture, if undetected or ignored, could lead to a serious medical condition or in some cases, even permanent damage, thereby becoming grounds for an orthopedic malpractice lawsuit.
In this medical speciality, bone screws also play an important role. While setting or surgically realigning bones, bone screws are used more than any other type of implant. They may also be used to lengthen or shorten limbs that are abnormally sized or to assist in the relief of back-related issues. However, the use of defective bone screws can weaken and eventually break, thereby causing the patient to experience severe pain and sometimes having to go through additional surgery. This is another cause for an orthopedic malpractice lawsuit.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to an orthopedic misdiagnosis or error, your first step should be to contact an orthopedic malpractice attorney who can aid you in securing the compensation that you are entitled to. This compensation might cover financial loss, for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and/or emotional distress.
There are instances when an orthopedic malpractice attorney may even be able to secure for you punitive damages for another party's wrongdoing. These lawyers will be able to assist you in dealing with your insurance company as well those of the other party.