Orthopedic injuries are those affecting the bones, muscles, or ligaments. They can occur during the course of the victim’s everyday life—a slip and fall on icy driveway, for instance, or an ankle injury that occurs during a contact sport. Common orthopedic injuries include ACL tears, dislocated shoulders, sprained ankles or feet, stress fractures to various bones, rotator cuff tears, torn meniscus, and tennis elbow.
Injuries that occur as a result of orthopedic surgery may constitute medical malpractice. In cases where an orthopedic surgeon fails to uphold their duty of care to the patient and causes additional trauma, the patient may be able to seek recovery for medical expenses, as well as the pain and mental anguish they suffered as a result of the injury.
What Are Orthopedic Surgery Injuries?
Like all surgeons, orthopedic surgeons are highly trained specialists. And like all surgeons, they are not immune to error. Common forms of orthopedic malpractice include incorrect or delayed diagnoses; the failure to properly set broken bones; the failure to properly place prosthetics; the failure to lift or turn a patient correctly; the failure to move a patient correctly; the improper use of metal plates; the improper use of metal pins and screws; performing surgery on the incorrect region of the patient’s body; incorrectly reading scans, x-rays, and other lab tests; leaving surgical instruments inside the patient during surgery; the improper use of anesthetic; medication errors; the improper treatment of fractures, including spinal cord fractures; and failing to properly recognize post-operative complications.
How Common Are Orthopedic Surgery Injuries?
A study published in 2018 in the Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology found that orthopedics is a branch of medicine “considered to be at a high risk of claims.” An analysis of medical malpractice complaints against orthopedic medical professionals between 2002 and 2013 found that medical malpractice occurred in almost 50% of cases. According to the study’s authors, orthopedic malpractice usually occurred in cases where the patient received surgery, and it often caused “permanent impairment of the patient.” Fortunately, the study found that death resulting from orthopedic malpractice was comparatively rare.
A 2018 article published in the journal Orthopedics analyzed 81 orthopedic malpractice cases resulting in jury verdicts or settlements from 2010 to 2016. The study’s authors found that the average age of affected patients (and/or plaintiffs, they clarified) was 53.4. The most common types of claims litigated were spine surgery, knee surgery, and hip surgery. The most common reasons for the claims were procedural error and negligence. The study also found that jury verdicts in favor of the patient/plaintiff generally led to “payouts nearly double those of settlements.”
What Can I Do If I’m a Victim of Orthopedic Surgery Injury?
Victims of orthopedic surgery injuries may be able to recovery substantial compensation from the negligent medical professionals who caused their injuries. Like the surgery itself, however, orthopedic surgery injury claims can be very complex, requiring seasoned lawyers and expert medical witnesses. The medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan have deep experience seeking accountability from negligent medical providers and justice for the victims of orthopedic surgery errors in New York. Please reach out to our lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.