The last decade has seen the demand for orthopedic surgeons grow steadily. Both the number of patients requiring orthopedic procedures and the number of medical students choosing to enter the field have swelled since 2012 and are expected to continue doing so well into the future. This is due to better understanding of the field and the development of advanced treatment options and innovations. While a career in orthopedic surgery is remunerative, the impact of negligent decisions can forever change the lives of patients. The Chicago orthopedist medical malpractice attorneys work on behalf of those injured patients to help them recover the compensation they need to be able to return to normal lives.
Stringent Training Requirements for Orthopedic Surgeons
An orthopedist specializes in diagnosing and treating injuries and disorders that affect the musculoskeletal system. This can cover a number of medical conditions that range from fractured or shattered bones to torn ligaments and tendons or the treatment of tumors, cancers or birth defects. It should come as no surprise that orthopedic surgeons are required to dedicate almost a decade of their lives toward the medical training needed to perform their duties responsibly.
The training includes four to five years of hospital residency where up and coming orthopedists can accumulate on hands experience while working with real patients. Those who fill all of the requirements to become surgeons do extremely well for themselves. The median salary for orthopedic surgeons in the United States is currently $233,150.
Our Chicago orthopedic malpractice lawyers believe that it is well within reason to demand that such highly regarded and well-paid professionals be accountable to their patients whenever poor decisions result in the need for corrective medical treatment, physical suffering and the development of conditions that will have a negative impact on patients for the rest of their lives.
Errors in Diagnosis and Treatment Considered as Orthopedic Medical Malpractice
Many of the injuries patients endure due to medical malpractice are rooted in incorrect diagnoses and subsequent treatment decisions based on those inaccurate assessments. The treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders depends on assisting the body’s natural healing process. For instance, whenever someone breaks a bone, the body produces a physical response to the fracture and initiates a biological healing process that will regrow and repair the bone. In order for this process to be effective, the bone needs to be set properly so that it does not heal while misaligned.
If the bone heals while improperly aligned, it can result in physical deformity, impact motor function and cause extreme pain and discomfort. Repairing a bone that has healed improperly often requires breaking the bone a second time and setting it in the right place through surgical means. Other factors that need to be considered include the muscles and tissues surrounding the point of injury and the presence of large nerves; which may become impinged due to injury or during recovery.
The errors committed by orthopedists that can be considered negligent include the following.
- Failure to diagnose the presence of fractures or shattered bones. If a broken bone goes unnoticed, it can have a significant impact on how the bone repairs itself. Patients may see a progressive decline in a range of motion, worsening of pain and noticeable deformity. Children who fail to receive a timely diagnosis may suffer from developmental problems if the fracture is along a growth plate.
- Misinterpreting the results of x-rays and imaging scans. It is possible for fractures to remain hidden when scanned from only one angle, which is why many reputable orthopedists will take multiple x-rays and order more advanced scans. If they don’t interpret the results properly, they may miss the fracture altogether or end up recommending the wrong treatment.
- Improperly treating a broken bone. The bone needs to be set and remain in place throughout the patient’s recovery to ensure proper healing. Ways this process can be impacted include the improper setting of the bone, failure to monitor the patient’s progress and electing to use the wrong method of placement. Some bones can be placed into a cast without concern while others require devices such as pins, screws or rods to keep in place.
- Performing a procedure on the wrong limb. This can be especially problematic because it exacerbates the current injury while putting the patient through more bodily stress. Additional surgery is required both to address the original concern and to mend the mistake and this provides more ample opportunity for bacterial infections or other complications to develop.
- Closing the patient during a surgical procedure while surgical instruments are inside his or her body. There have been concerning incidents where sharp objects, towels, sponges or other objects have been found inside postoperative patients. These objects can perforate internal organs, cause infections and force the patient to endure the intense pain until the object is removed.
- Neglecting the patient’s progress or risks following a surgical procedure. Many of the injuries patients suffer occur after the surgery due to the numerous risks that are associated with any operative procedure. Infection is one of the most concerning risks, but other complications may arise. It is the duty of the orthopedist to recognize potential concerns and take proactive and reactive measures as appropriate to reduce and respond to risks.
- Cutting off blood flow to the area surrounding an injury when applying a splint or cast. The resulting injury is called compartment syndrome, but this is simply an elaborate way of saying restricted circulation. Tissue death can ensue if blood flow is not returned in a timely manner and emergency surgery might be required if the problem is allowed to progress.
- Failure to take preventative measures or to respond to complications that ultimately end in the death of the patient. There are many ways that a patient can die due to negligent care, but the more common causes are an undetected infection, internal bleeding and damage to critical organs.
Children are often at the greatest risk of suffering injuries with longstanding effects because their bones are growing at the time of injury. The injury itself poses a risk of physical deformity and the loss of motor function, but this can be exacerbated by the failure to diagnose a problem or an error during treatment. Orthopedists must consider treatment options that are least likely to harm children’s development and make sure that they address any current concerns that might result in impairment or deformity.
Types of Compensation Sought in Orthopedic Negligence Claims
Proving medical malpractice can be difficult due to the legal advantages that medical care providers enjoy when defending themselves in court. If it is possible to prove a breach of care, patients and their families can be awarded compensatory damages in an amount relevant to the value juries place on their future medical costs, pain, and suffering, lost opportunities, time off of work and loss of life.
It is extremely important to be able to substantiate the value of your claim through a combination of witness statements, medical records, copies of treatment plans and the help of medical experts and economists. Having an attorney that specializes in medical law represent your interests increases your chances of success exponentially because he or she will know exactly what type of evidence and testimony will be needed to prompt a settlement offer or to win the case in court. Experienced lawyers who operate with a focus on malpractice can also maximize the value of your claim by being able to seek the right amount of compensation while justifying it with compelling arguments and expert opinions.
Review Your Orthopedic Medical Malpractice Case with an Attorney for Free
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is a leading provider of legal services to those who have been injured through the irresponsible actions of others. Our effective approach allows us to increase your chances of success by connecting you with attorneys that have extensive knowledge and experience working with cases that are similar to your own. If you suspect that you have been injured due to a medical error or malpractice, we’d like the opportunity to help.
Contact us today to be connected with an award-winning Chicago orthopedist medical malpractice attorney so that we can review the details of your case and let you know more about your legal options for free. We believe that anyone who has been injured deserves access to quality legal representation, so you won’t have to worry at all about upfront legal fees. Since we work on a contingency basis, we will never demand payment until we’ve successfully secured compensation on your behalf.