When are knee replacement complications considered medical malpractice?

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Every surgical procedure involves some inherent risk, but complications from a knee replacement can be considered medical malpractice. If you're the victim of knee replacement malpractice, you're entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Knee replacement malpractice

About Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a procedure that involves replacing some or all of the components of the knee joint with a synthetic implant. The procedure is intended to fix damage to weight-bearing surfaces of the knee, thus reducing pain and allowing for greater range of motion. In most cases, the damage to the knee joint is caused by osteoarthritis.

The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that about 300,000 Americans undergo knee replacement surgery each year. This number has almost doubled over the last decade, due to an aging population. The prosthetic joints used in knee replacements will eventually wear out, but most people experience pain relief and an improved quality of life for 15 years or more.

Potential Complications From a Knee Replacement

Some of the complications that patients may experience after a knee replacement include:

  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Nerve damage
  • Blood vessel injury
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Movement impairment
  • Chronic stiffness
  • Chronic pain
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pulmonary embolism

Complications can result in the need for additional surgery, added time in the hospital, an inability to return to work as planned, and difficulty performing the tasks of everyday living such as cleaning your home and caring for your children.

Meeting the Standard of Malpractice

You’re not entitled to compensation simply because your knee replacement surgery was less successful than you had hoped. To have a valid malpractice claim, you must be able to prove that your orthopedic surgeon was negligent and that this negligence caused your surgical complications.

Negligence means that the surgeon acted in a way that violates the accepted standard of care for your condition. For example, a surgeon who failed to monitor for signs of post-op infection would be acting in way that goes against what a competent professional would do in the same circumstances.

After you've established negligence, you must show that this negligence caused your complications. If the complications were caused by another unavoidable factor or by your own failure to follow post-op care instructions, this does not meet the standard for malpractice.

Typically, meeting the standard for malpractice relies heavily on the testimony of medical experts. These are professionals with expertise who can clarify the standard of care and cause of your complications.

Statute of Limitations

Some knee replacement complications are immediately apparent, while others are not noticed until the patient fails to heal and return to his daily routine within the expected timeframe.

Louisiana law requires you to file a malpractice claim within one year of the action that forms the basis of the case. However, if your complications develop later and the malpractice is thus not immediately known, the statute of limitations is extended to one year of the date on which damages are actually or could reasonably have been discovered but no more than three years after the date of your surgery.

Protecting Your Right to Compensation

Medical malpractice cases are extremely complex, and hospitals have extensive legal teams available to protect their interests. If you suspect you have been the victim of medical malpractice related to knee replacement complications, it's essential that you retain an attorney who can help document your damages, prove liability, and negotiate for the highest possible settlement.

Malpractice attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no upfront cost for representation. Your attorney will ask for a percentage of the final settlement as the fee for service.

The award-winning legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to protecting the rights of Louisiana residents who've been harmed by a healthcare provider's negligence. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.


Richard J. Arsenault
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Recognized by several legal associations, Richard Arsenault has vast experience in complex litigation cases.