Orthopedic surgeons are highly trained professions that provide diagnosis, surgery and post-surgical treatment to patients who suffer from any variety of musculoskeletal system conditions. Typical conditions that orthopedic surgeons work on with patients include, but are not limited to, muscle, ligament and tendon damage, arthritis, cerebral palsy, dislocations, osteoporosis, and spine disorders. Orthopedic surgeons are held to a standard of care, just like any other physician or surgeon.
A patient who has suffering an injury from the negligence of an orthopedic surgeon must demonstrate three things to be successful in their claim. First, the patient must show that the orthopedic surgeon deviated from the accepted standard of care utilized by other orthopedic surgeons in a similar situation. Second, the orthopedic surgeon’s negligence caused an unnecessary injury to the patient. Finally, the unnecessary injury incurred by the patient was significant in terms of either duration or severity.
Types of negligence that stem specifically from orthopedic surgeons include: improper treatment of fractures, improperly setting a bone, misinterpretation of test results such as x-rays, CT-scans, or MRIs, operating on the wrong part of the body, failure to diagnose fractures, applying a cast too tightly, and improper placement of orthopedic hardware when repairing a fracture. An injury cause by a negligent orthopedic surgeon could be as severe as a patient incurring spine and nerve damage, blood vessel damage, or even suffering from fatal blood clots.
One horrifying case is a 2011 case that took place in New York involving an orthopedic surgeon with 261 lawsuits dating as far back as 2009. The lawsuits all revolved around mishandled and unnecessary surgeries performed by the orthopedic surgeon in question. There were even instances where this orthopedic surgeon prepared false documents for operations that never took place. This surgeon even went so far as to put patients under anesthesia and never perform an operation. Additionally, the orthopedic surgeon was found to have performed a total of 22 surgeries on a daily basis. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, on average an orthopedic surgeon performs 32 surgeries in a month. In this particular situation, the medical facility employing the surgeon was also sued for lack of oversight, especially since all of this information was put down in surgical logs.
If you have suffered an injury caused by negligence on the part of an orthopedic surgeon, you may be entitled to damage. Some damages commonly awarded to such plaintiffs include therapy, current and future medical costs, current and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
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