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. They are both expected to continue to rise 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. Contact our office today to discuss your orthopedic malpractice case with an attorney for free.
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 as well as 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 hands-on 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. These 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. The 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.
Orthopedic Surgeon Malpractice Awards
$5,511,566 Verdict; Orthopedic Surgery Malpractice; Chicago, Illinois
The victim in this dispute was a young man, just forty-four years old. He worked as an electrical engineer. In August of 2012, he dislocated his knee. The injury was described as severe. He saw an orthopedic doctor for consultation and diagnosis. The orthopedic surgeon had his leg put in a split. Then, he scheduled him for surgery. The operation was set for a few weeks in the future. The patient arrived as scheduled on the day in question. However, things quickly unraveled. As the staff was prepping him for surgery, he suffered a pulmonary embolism. A blood clot had formed. It travelled from his leg to his heart and then finally rested in his lungs. Staff tried to resuscitate him, but he slipped out of consciousness. He died a few days later. His wife and children survived him. They brought a wrongful death case against the orthopedic surgeon, attending staff, and hospital. They alleged that the defendants did not take into consideration the man’s risk factors including weight, age, etc. They also cited the defendants with a faulty consultation, testing, and review process. All in all, they claimed these failures led to the man’s premature death. The defendants replied in brief. They stated that no symptoms suggested this turn of events. However, the jury had the final say. They ruled for the family and awarded them more than $5 million in damages for lost wages, lost society, grief, and sorrow.
$3,000,000 Verdict; Orthopedic Surgery Malpractice; Chicago, Illinois
This lawsuit involved a tragic case of miscommunication. The patient was a man in his early fifties. He had recently suffered an injury at work to his quadriceps. An orthopedic surgeon operated on him. The doctor performed a tendon repair procedure. What happened next was the subject of controversy. The doctor alleged he instructed the patient to indefinitely use aspirin. The patient and his wife claimed the orthopedic surgeon only said to take aspirin for a few days after the procedure. Whatever the case, the man began experiencing lots of pain. He reported this to the surgeon and other doctors. They did not think it was anything important. Then, about a week after the surgery, he collapsed and lost consciousness. He died a few days later from a bilateral pulmonary embolism. His wife sued for wrongful death. She argued in her complaint that the orthopedic doctor should have known the man was at risk for this due to deep vein thrombosis; he should have ordered more lab testing; and he should have prescribed more medications among other failures. The doctor alleged that he did prescribe indefinite use of the drug. However, records show that he did not mention it in a post-op meeting with the decedent. Evidence of this and a lack of communication after surgery made the defendant appear negligent. The jury gave the plaintiff a $3 million verdict for grief, lost income as well as lost society.
$4,800,000 Verdict; Orthopedic Surgery Malpractice; Chicago, Illinois
Things started off innocently enough in this case. A young man fell down and ruptured a tendon in his leg. The affected area was his quadriceps. He was just thirty-one when it happened. He had to have surgery to fix it. An orthopedic surgeon performed on him. At some point during the operation, deep vein thrombosis emerged. This was not discovered for a few days. By that point, it had developed into a pulmonary embolism. He died one week later. His estate sued the orthopedic surgeon. The lawyers alleged that the doctor should have taken into account the man’s health risks. Also, they complained that the orthopedic surgeon did not take steps to alleviate the thrombosis or consult with other doctors. The defendant denied that the man’s prior health concerns were related to the pulmonary embolism or that any measures could have prevented it. The matter went through a whole trial and after the jury awarded the estate $4.8 million for suffering, grief, and lost society.
$946,000 Verdict; Orthopedic Surgery Malpractice; Will County, Illinois
This case involved multiple doctors over multiple locations. The genesis of the dispute was when a middle-aged man had a knee replacement. He was forty-eight at the time. This was performed by an orthopedic surgeon. That doctor cut one of his arteries and severed a nerve during the operation. This required another physician to come in and evaluate the patient. That doctor performed a bypass but could not find a pulse after the procedure. Also, the man could not move or feel anything in his leg. Both doctors decided to have him moved to another location for further evaluation. Eventually, the issue was resolved. However, the patient still suffered from numbness, weakness, pain, and scarring. He believed this came from the delay due to the transfer as well as the original doctors’ numbness. The doctors responded that they operated within the standard of care and that the procedure to restore the leg was successful. Further, they claimed his underlying knee problems were the cause of the complications. A jury held that they were wrong. It awarded the man $946,000 in compensation. Of that amount, $200,000 was for lost wages; $160,000 was for medical bills; $46,000 was for disfigurement; $190,000 was for suffering; and $350,000 was for lost normal life.
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.