“Total knee replacement surgeries (TKR) total more than 400,000 procedures every year,” as stated by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons. When complications arise, it is not always clearly evident that surgical negligence is the cause. In most cases, TKR surgeries are successful and without incidence.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
* These legal cases are classified as “Tort Law.” They are different from contractual law and criminal Law. This branch of law provides remedies for civil wrongs.* The injured patient must prove the physician acted negligently; the surgeon showed a lack of attention or care, by not diligently performing his duties and responsibilities.
* Medical malpractice cases are under the jurisdiction of individual states; not the Federal government as in most other countries.
* The “statutes of limitation” govern the acceptable filling of all lawsuits, which individual state laws determine.
* If the malpractice suit is successful, the court determines the monetary damages. Lost income, the cost of future medical care, and pain and suffering are the established criteria.
Guidelines for Reducing Surgical Complications and Knee Replacement Lawsuits
1) The surgeon and his team must know the sequential steps of the procedure and operate with speed and efficiency, but not hastily.
2) Full disclosure of the patient’s complete medical conditions, such as corticosteroid use, diabetes, obesity, and nicotine use. These risk factors could prolong the healing process and increase the likelihood of infection.
3) A controlled sterile environment, including but not limited to, ultra clean-air operating rooms.
4) If the TKR is a reimplantation procedure, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends a two-staged revision. Remove all components and follow-up with an adequate course of parenteral antibiotics before surgery.
5) Incorporate these blood tests as a vital part of this surgical procedure: the C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR). These tests will indicate the early stages of sepsis. Treat the infection promptly and aggressively.
Precautions and Preliminary Presurgical Procedures
* Neurovascular injury is an uncommon occurrence in knee replacement surgery. If it occurs, it can cause devastating consequences for the patient. The surgeon can avoid this situation with comprehensive knowledge of the location of anatomic structures.
* Patients with valgus deformity and flexion deformity or both, are at risk of peroneal nerve damage. The orthopedist can initiate precautionary measures in either situation. A standard implant may not satisfy these patients needs. Physicians should consider more constrained devices.
* A candid discussion between doctor and patient is crucial. It must include informed consent. Honest communication can reveal potential problems and avoid disastrous complications. Patients understand the benefits and inherent risks. The patient gains peace of mind, by having questions answered and concerns addressed. They make informed decisions regarding their health care. Both the surgeon and the patient have reasonable expectations.
Proper documentation can serve as evidence in court. Strict adherence to these standards of care is fundamental. They ensure the optimum environment for patient recovery. It is the reasonable level of care that every patient expects and deserves. It demonstrates the basic principles that guide doctors to treat the sick to the best of one’s ability.