Undergoing a surgery can be a traumatic and stressful experience. When we go in for a surgery, the goal is to improve whatever the condition that is causing pain, discomfort or illness. However, there are times when surgeries can go horribly wrong primarily because of negligence on the part of the surgeon or assisting staff members. There are times when a surgeon’s carelessness or incompetence could cause broken bones. When the origin of a broken bone is unknown, but occurred soon after a surgical procedure, it is important to look into whether it occurred during surgery.
If you or a loved one has suffered a broken bone as the result of medical negligence, it is important that you contact an experienced Morgantown West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer who will help protect your legal rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.
What is a Bone Fracture?
A fracture is essentially a broken bone. A bone may be completely or partially broken. Even though bones are rigid structures, they do bend a little when an outside force is applied. However, if the force is too great for them to withstand, the bones will break just as a plastic ruler that is bent too far snaps in two.
The severity of a bone fracture usually depends on the force that caused the break. If the bone’s breaking point has been exceeded only slightly, then the bone may crack rather than break all the way through. However, if there is more force, the bone may even shatter into pieces.
Here are some of the common types of fractures:
- A stable fracture is where the broken ends of a bone line up and are just barely out of place.
- An open or compound fracture occurs when the bone pierces the skin.
- A transverse fracture occurs when the break is horizontal.
- An oblique fracture has an angled pattern.
- A comminuted fracture is one where there is severe impact and the bone shatters into three or more pieces.
Risk Factors for Fractures
Before scheduling a surgery, it is important that surgeons look into the patient’s medical history including risk factors for broken bones. When it comes to risk factors for fractures, age and gender are the biggest factors. Women are more likely to sustain fractures than men. This is because women’s bones are generally smaller and less dense than men’s bones. Additionally women lose bone density than men as they age because of the loss of estrogen at menopause.
Here are some of the other common risk factors that increase patients’ chances of a fracture, which must be considered before surgery:
Smoking: It is well established that smoking is a risk factor for bone fractures because of its impact on hormone levels. Women who smoke generally go through menopause at an earlier age. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, smoking was said to be risk factor for bone loss.
Alcohol use: Drinking alcohol in excess could influence bone mass and structure. Chronic heavy drinking during a person’s early years can compromise bone quality and may increase the risk of bone loss, and potential fractures.
Steroid use: Corticosteroids are used to treat a variety of health conditions such as inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, bowel disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. But the need to use them at increased doses to ease other conditions could cause bone loss. These unwanted side effects depend on the dose of medication. Because steroids hinder the formation of bone, curtail calcium absorption and increase the loss of calcium through urine, they lead to rapid bone loss.
Rheumatoid arthritis: This is a debilitating autoimmune disease where the body attacks healthy cells and tissues around the joints, resulting in severe joint and bone loss. The pain and poor joint function further reduce activity levels accelerating bone loss and the risk of fracture.
Chronic disorders: Other chronic disorders such as Crohn’s, Celiac disease and ulcerative colitis are often linked to bone loss, which could be accelerated by frequent and necessary treatment with steroids. According to studies, 30 to 60% of people with inflammatory bowel disease may also have low bone density.
Type 1 diabetes: Patients with Type 1 diabetes also tend to have lower bone density, although scientists are not sure why that is the case.
Prior fractures: Previous low-impact fractures double the risk of having another fracture. Spinal fractures can be strong predictors of more spine fractures to come.
Surgeons should consider these and other risk factors and properly explain the possible risks of performing a surgery to patients so they are able to make an informed decision regarding their healthcare.
Surgical Malpractice and Compensation
If you or a loved one has suffered broken bones as the result of surgical error, you may be able to compensation including but not limited to medical expenses, cost of additional surgery, treatment or rehabilitation, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, past and future pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, court costs, and emotional distress. Doctors, hospitals, surgeons and other staff members have a duty and a responsibility to prevent these types of errors and protect patients from injury and harm.
You may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon, the hospital and other responsible parties. It is important to remember that lawsuits involving medical errors are complex and could involve several possible defendants. In addition to the surgeon, patients may able to sue other members of the medical team who provided care. A patient may also have a case against the hospital or clinic where the surgery took place.
If you or a loved one have suffered complications as a result of fractured bones after surgery at hospitals such as Ruby Memorial Hospital, Monongalia General (Mon General) Hospital, Mon Health Systems WVU University Health Associates or private clinics in West Virginia, the Robinette Legal Group PLLC can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Call us today at 304-594-1800 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.