The loss of a limb is an extremely painful experience both emotionally and physically; living with the loss of a limb is a reality that nearly two million people in American face daily. Sadly, amputations happen and are necessary to treat a variety of medical issues. However, when a limb is lost due to medical provider negligence, the pain and suffering endured by victims is felt tenfold. Not only is the loss disfiguring, but it can also be permanently disabling, necessitating years of physical therapy and costly medical expenses. While prosthetics can help amputees regain some use, the loss changes life forever.
Patients trust doctors and nurses with their lives, so when mistakes are made, the consequences are alarming. Each year more than 185,000 amputations are performed in hospitals across the country. There are times when an amputation is medically required in order to save a patient’s life, but amputations are generally an option of last resort.
When Is Amputation Necessary?
Depending on the medical issue, amputation is required when a diseased body part is not expected to heal and the patient’s life is at risk as a result. Limb loss may be the best course of action to save a patient’s life or prevent further physical damage. Some of the most common causes of amputations include:
Circulation Problems prevent blood from delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissue, causing them to break down and die. These internal issues can often lead to fatal medical problems. An amputation may be necessary to help correct and restore circulation in order to ensure the delivery of adequate oxygen and nutrients needed for recovery.
Dangerous Infections that are left untreated can spread throughout the body causing major health problems. Similar to the body’s response to poor circulation, infected issue can eventually spread, resulting in death. An amputation may be necessary to stop the spread of infection and/or partially save an infected limb.
Diabetes is a significant cause of amputation among Americans. People living with diabetes are prone to nerve damage and circulation issues. Either one or a combination of both of these issues could cause tissue damage and/or lead to ulcers and infections that can go untreated due to loss of sensation in the infected area. These issues commonly affect the lower extremities such as feet and lower legs.
Tumors that affect bones or muscles may require amputation. Because of the sensitive network of blood vessels and nerve endings a cancerous tumor could impact, amputation may be required to stop a tumor from spreading or to minimize its impact. In addition, amputations related to tumors require extreme precision and accuracy in testing and surgery.
Serious Accidents are one of the most common reasons for amputations. Often, a catastrophic accident – such as a car accident, severe burn or road rash, a crush injury, fall injury, or getting caught in/between an object or heavy machinery – inflicts irreparable damage. Amputations are common in serious accidents due to necessity as part of extreme lifesaving measures taken by doctors.
Amputations and reasons for amputations are more common than people realize. Unfortunately, amputation errors are equally common. Surgery to remove a limb is extremely dangerous and can lead to complications that could cost a patient not only a limb but also their life, if not performed properly and/or cared for correctly post-operatively.
How Do Amputation Errors Happen?
Amputation errors can be traced back to a variety of causes, all stemming from negligence and wrongdoing. Patients who face an amputation trust their doctor is not only competent in his or her ability to successfully perform a limb removal but that they have reached the recommendation for amputation after exhausting all options and based on accurate testing data. When doctors, nurses, and hospitals fail to meet this minimum standard, patients suffer.
Misdiagnosis of a medical condition is an error that can cause an unnecessary amputation to occur. Doctors, nurses, and hospital staff that fail to correctly diagnose a condition cost patients precious time that could prevent an amputation entirely, as well as prevent the wrong limb from being amputated.
Errors in the patient’s medical chart can have a similar effect to misdiagnosis on a patient’s health and recovery. It is critical to accurately record and update a patient’s medical history and symptoms to ensure their treatment plan is consistent with patient medications, previous medical procedures, and the medical issue itself.
Failure to diagnose a medical conditional can be fatal. If a patient is prematurely released from a hospital or other health facility without receiving necessary and proper treatment due to a physician’s failure to diagnose their medical issue, it could result in amputation or even death.
Failure to treat a medical condition can lead to amputation errors. If a patient has an infection that goes neglected by doctors, nurses, and hospital staff, it could become worse and require amputation. Doctors and nurses have a duty to patients to monitor all conditions and administer proper care to prevent further illness or injury.
Surgical errors could result in an amputation depending on the severity of the mistake. Any surgical error can be fatal for a patient, but those that permanently damage nerves, muscles, and tissue can alter the course of a patient’s life forever.
When a hospital, doctor, nurse, or other medical professional fails to administer proper care, they should be held responsible. A successful wrongful amputation claim involves the precise handling of complex legal issues that require a detailed analysis of medical records and consultations with experts in order to construct a case that holds the responsible parties accountable for the damages caused by their negligence and wrongful actions.
Philadelphia Amputation Errors Lawyers
The road to recovery after suffering the loss of a limb is not a simple one. Amputation victims face years of physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, prosthetics, and more in order to regain a sense of normalcy. If you or someone you love has been impacted by an unnecessary or wrongful amputation, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys of Lopez McHugh, LLP for a free and confidential consultation. We are committed to helping medical malpractice victims receive the justice they deserve.