Amputations from Medical Negligence
January 14, 2021
Medical mistakes are a leading cause of disability and death in the United States. They can cause several different types of complications, but in some of the most serious of cases, these avoidable errors lead to the loss of a limb. Medical malpractice is the legal cause of action that the injured individual can take after a healthcare provider’s negligence and deviance from the accepted standard of care results in harm, such as an amputation.
Stories of negligent amputations run rampant, ranging from a man who had to have part of his leg removed after receiving the wrong post-operative advice, a young boy who lost his leg after a botched tonsillectomy, and an adult male who lost his toes after his sepsis was mismanaged. According to numbers from the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA), approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the United States every year. While it is unclear exactly how many amputations are the direct result of medical negligence or malpractice, what we do know is that far too many patients have lost a limb or limbs because of a healthcare professional’s unacceptable mistake.
Sometimes an amputation is necessary to treat a patient or to save his or her life. But even in times when an amputation is essential, the road to recovery can be a long, tiring, and physically traumatic one. What can make recovery even more difficult is when an amputation should never have occurred in the first place, making rehabilitation even more upsetting and complicated for a patient who just wants life to return to normal. Whether a patient loses the tip of his or her finger or their entire leg, the loss of a limb or limbs can have devastating consequences on a someone’s overall quality of life as well as their future medical needs and costs.
Examples of Medical Negligence Resulting in Limb Loss
Medical malpractice can lead to wrongful amputations for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few examples of how a healthcare provider’s mistake can lead to trauma and injury to a patient:
- Failure to treat or diagnose a post-op blood clot. Post-operative blood clots are actually not as uncommon as you may think. This type of blood clot is a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and it can happen after surgery as a result of lack of physical movement and reduced blood flow. Some doctors prescribe their post-operative patients with bed rest while others may simply be moving around less as their body heals. Since blood clots are a common complication after surgery (particular major surgical procedures), medical personnel must adequately evaluate patients
- Leaving a surgical instrument, materials, or tools inside a patient’s body during a procedure. When a surgeon, nurse, or other medical worker unintentionally leaves a foreign object inside a patient’s body, it can lead to a serious infection that requires the removal of a limb
- If a doctor misdiagnoses or fails to recognize a patient’s condition, this negligence can lead to amputation. This can occur as a result of doctor failing to diagnose a patient with vascular disease, for example. Vascular disease is a condition that affects the veins and arteries and if it is not diagnosed in a timely manner, can lead to a patient losing a limb
- Prescribing the wrong medication or giving the wrong medical advice. Some doctors tell their patients to stop taking a medication too early, and in other cases a doctor prescribes too little or too much of a certain prescription or simply the wrong drug altogether
- Wrong limb amputation. As shocking as it may sound, a wrongful amputation is sometimes the result of medical personnel misreading or improperly communicating which limb (e.g. left leg versus right leg) is the correct one to amputate
- Using an unclean or contaminated medical device. Surgical medical devices come with inherent infection risks because when they pierce or enter the body, they leave parts of it exposed. Contaminated medical devices, however, can directly cause infection. Some of the most common culprits of medical device-related infections are urinary catheters, intravenous infusion devices, respiratory therapy equipment and devices used to administer hemodialysis
Amputations are not only traumatic; they can also be deadly. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), having a lower limb amputation is associated with a fairly high risk of not surviving for the first year after a surgical procedure. Post-operative mortality rates for lower limb amputee’s ranges from 9% to 16%. People who have a limb amputated are also prone to other problematic medical complications, like slow wound healing and infection, “phantom limb” pain, pneumonia, heart attack, and stump oedema.
If you were a victim of medical negligence and you would like to learn more about filing a medical malpractice claim, someone at our firm can help. Victims of a wrongful amputation have the right to file a medical malpractice claim. To learn more, contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
Galfand Berger LLP has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.