Orthopaedic surgeons are specialised doctors that diagnose and treat all types of conditions of the musculoskeletal system, namely bones, joints, muscles and tendons.
Stephanie Prior Partner
The nature of orthopaedic work falls into two main categories:
- Trauma, which includes fractures and dislocations
- Other conditions such as infection, tumours, degeneration and congenital problems
Like doctors in other fields, orthopaedic surgeons tend to specialise into subgroups, such as spinal surgery, trauma or paediatric surgery.
Orthopaedic surgeons can be prone to error. The Orthopaedic Error Index for hospitals aimed to provide the first national assessment of errors within orthopaedic surgery and trauma provides the statistics. For the period 2009-2010, 155 hospitals reported nearly 49,000 orthopaedic related patient safety incidents with varying degrees of harm: 70.5% no harm, 23.5% low harm, 5.4% moderate harm, 0.5% severe harm and 0.1% death.
Diagnostic Errors with orthopaedic injuries
Diagnostic mistakes in orthopaedics are to a large extent due to misreading X-rays and missing fractures. The current organisation of orthopaedic cover in Accident and Emergency Departments means that junior doctors are usually first to review X-rays. This leads to a greater chance of misdiagnosis of an injury. Hand and foot fractures are a most commonly missed.
The Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has spoken out about playing with a fractured shin. In December, he injured his leg during a match. The pain which radiated into his ankle and foot was ‘horrific.’ The team doctor gave him an injection to relieve the pain and he continued to play. It was not until the following morning when he went for a scan, that the fracture was diagnosed.
In another recent case, an otherwise fit and healthy woman who sustained a fractured femur while running was mis-diagnosed as having a pulled hamstring muscle. Despite severe pain and swelling and being unable to weight-bear, no X-rays were taken. When the fracture was finally discovered four days later, she underwent an operation to straighten her leg, but died on the table due to a cardiac arrest. Her traumatised family believe the delay in diagnosis contributed to her death and are currently awaiting the results of the inquest.
A report in the Health and Safety Journal published in February 2019, highlights a National Patient Safety Alert issued by NHS Improvement. There are concerns that thousands of patients received incorrect metal plate implants during their orthopaedic operation. X-rays across more than 140 trusts are to be reviewed in order to determine which patients had surgery with a metal plate for a long bone fracture since February 2018. The review was prompted after metal plates in two patients buckled. Patients with the wrong plate may require further surgery.
There were also reports that orthopaedic surgeons in a German hospital mistakenly implanted femoral components for total knee replacements without cement, even though the implants were designed to be used with cement. Of the 47 patients affected, 30 had to undergo revision surgery.
Wrong part of the body
You may be surprised to know that the incidence of wrong site errors is the highest in orthopaedic surgery, when compared to all specialities.
In 2018, the British Medical Journal reported that a consultant orthopaedic surgeon was struck off the medical register when he operated on the wrong part of his patient’s knee and then falsified records to cover up his mistake. His patient, a 28-year-old footballer now suffers with severe disability of his knee as a consequence. The GMC panel chair said that the surgeon, ‘Demonstrated a flagrant disregard of his duty of care, both with regard to his clinical failure and with his attempt to conceal his error’.
Medication errors can occur both inside and outside the orthopaedic operating theatre. A paper produced by The Royal College of Surgeons outlines how anaesthetists working in orthopaedic surgery settings have made errors that resulted in successful litigation. In total for the study period, nearly £500,000 was awarded to patients due to medication errors committed by the anaesthetist, including one example where pure alcohol was injected in a nerve block procedure, instead of local anaesthetic. The authors also described how two cases of wrong-side nerve block resulted in compensation paid to the patients. In another case, when an anaesthetist shaved and prepared the wrong leg for knee arthroscopy, the patient was awarded £8,300 in compensation.
Orthopaedic negligence compensation
At Osbornes Law we are acting for several clients who have suffered medical negligence caused by inappropriate screw length in corrective bone surgery which has led to pain and suffering, damage to nerve during orthopaedic surgery, incorrect surgical procedure which has led to long term disability of the foot and mobility problems.
If you think that you may have suffered due to orthopaedic negligence, contact our specialist team of medical negligence solicitors for a free confidential discussion. In order to prove negligence, there must have been a duty of care that was breached, and an injury or harm resulted as a consequence. Our team of specialists will advise you whether or not you have a viable claim for compensation and we will support you through the process.
Our Promise to You
- We will review your potential claim by advising you on the NHS complaints procedure or other alternative procedure if your case does not relate to NHS care and treatment.
- We will not charge a fee for our time in reviewing your case.
- We can assist you with any issues that you may have regarding the complaints procedure or that you encounter in obtaining copies of your medical records.
- We will advise you of the course of action in respect of your case.
For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811
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Stephanie has developed a particularly strong reputation for her handling of birth injury claims, as well as cases concerning surgical negligence and delays in surgery.
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"Stephanie Prior takes on complex cases and gets excellent results. She has a background in medicine which serves her clients well and is a realistic but tough litigator."
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The lawyers in the team are highly experienced and will drive cases very hard on behalf of their clients.
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The Medical Negligence Team View the whole team
Rob Aylott Partner
Personal Injury Solicitors
Jodi Newton Partner
Ben Posford Partner
Personal Injury Solicitors
Stephanie Prior Partner
Tahsin Choudhury Paralegal
Sophie Cole-Ducker Paralegal