Philadelphia Amputation Lawyer

Amputations and Medical Malpractice: When Negligence Leads to Limb Loss

The Amputee Coalition reports that over two million Americans struggle with limb loss. Often, this painful situation is prompted by medical malpractice, after negligent health care professionals compromise their patients’ present and future comfort and functionality. Even seemingly simple mistakes can cause decades of suffering, with victims often unable to maintain the professional and personal lives they enjoyed prior to limb loss.

In addition to severe physical and emotional pain, amputation victims face extreme financial pressure, brought about by injury-related job loss and the skyrocketing cost of prosthetics and rehabilitative care.

There is no way to fully reverse the pain and trauma of amputation, but financial relief and a valuable sense of closure can be delivered via a successful personal injury settlement. Those who work with trusted malpractice attorneys can hold negligent medical professionals accountable, thereby helping to reduce the risk of future unwarranted or unnecessary amputations.

Types of Malpractice That Lead to Amputation

Numerous instances of negligence can make amputation necessary as a life-saving procedure. Common situations include:

  • Infection due to equipment or other foreign objects being left in a patient’s body after surgery;
  • Failure to diagnosis infection promptly enough, leading to loss of limbs;
  • Failure to diagnose or treat blood clots that occur after surgery;
  • Infection due to contaminated medical equipment;
  • Improper use of medication, leading to blood clots;
  • Improper application of casts.
  • Failure to promptly treat vascular disease.

Malpractice can also occur when medical professionals amputate limbs that do not require removal. For example, a negligent surgeon may amputate the wrong limb or fail to pursue a better alternative.

The Role of Compartment Syndrome in Amputations

Many amputations are prompted by compartment syndrome, which occurs when excess pressure builds up within an enclosed space, otherwise referred to as a muscle compartment. The thick layers of tissue that surround the muscle cannot expand, so the swelling attributed to this injury disrupts blood flow and causes significant damage. Although often associated with car accidents or incidents involving heavy debris, compartment syndrome frequently occurs in medical settings, where it can result from tight bandaging, sepsis, or abdominal surgery. In severe cases, the syndrome can lead to renal failure or even death.

Emergency fasciotomy is the preferred treatment for severe compartment syndrome, but in some cases, amputation is necessary. Often, medical professionals must make the difficult choice between a life and a limb. Ultimately, it is health care provider’s responsibility to maintain a high level of care at all stages so as to prevent such devastating decisions.

The Long-Term Consequences of Wrongful Amputation

Limb loss impacts all facets of the sufferer’s life. Adjustment may take years, even if high-quality prosthetics are available. Once physically active individuals may no longer be able to pursue high-level sports and other endeavors they previously enjoyed. Limb loss may make some job responsibilities more difficult, and others completely impossible to carry out.

In addition to lost functionality, victims of wrongful amputation may experience nerve pain. Many suffer phantom limb, a condition marked

by painful sensations at the site of the missing limb. Nearly all amputees suffer phantom limb sensations to some degree, but acute pain is present in as many as 85 percent of amputation patients. While painless phantom limb typically disappears on its own without treatment in as little as two years, phantom limb pain may linger for the better part of a decade.

Emotional suffering is just as common as physical pain, and may last longer. Depression occurs frequently among amputees, with a report from the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry indicating that depressive symptoms are most likely for those who experience residual pain. Others experience post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly after undergoing difficult surgeries or experiencing long-term immobility.

What to Do If You Suspect Medical Malpractice Prompted Your Amputation

In the aftermath of an amputation, it is imperative that you obtain extensive documentation proving not only that negligence occurred, but also that it was directly or indirectly responsible for your amputation. Keep detailed records of your ordeal, and be sure to take plenty of photos. Depending on the evidence, you may be able to recover extensive damages for your suffering. At Rosenbaum & Associates we have helped numerous amputees obtain full and fair compensation for all their losses.

Did You Recently Suffer Medical Negligence, Leading to Amputation?

If you believe your amputation was prompted by negligence in a health care facility, seek qualified legal assistance as soon as possible. The strong team of medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenbaum & Associates can help you obtain the compensation you deserve and hold responsible parties accountable. Call 1-800-7-LEGAL-7 at your earliest convenience to schedule a free case consultation.

Sources:

www.amputee-coalition.org/limb-loss-resource-center/resources-by-topic/limb-loss-statistics/limb-loss-statistics/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20101187

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2018851/