ERNST & YOUNG
Mistakes are made every day in hospitals across America. While none of these occurrences are acceptable, amputation negligence is one of the most disastrous forms of malpractice that could occur. It’s so detrimental, in fact, that it’s one of the few mistakes commonly referred to as ‘never events’ – meaning there's never an excuse for their occurrence.
Unfortunately, medical errors resulting in amputation do happen. When this occurs, your family can be left with disastrous hospital bills and wondering how to move forward. Unfortunately, there’s no going back to the way things used to be. By better understanding amputation negligence, though, it becomes easier to face what's ahead.
How Did This Happen?
Stories of patients having the wrong limb amputated – or receiving an amputation meant for someone else – dominate the news cycle when they occur. In reality, this is only one of the many ways that amputation negligence can occur. When wrong patient or site surgeries of this type take place, it’s typically because the following safety steps weren’t followed:
- Mark operation site after reviewing with patient.
- Every member of operating team should provide oral verification of amputation site.
- Go through a verification checklist.
- The operating surgeon should be directly involved in informed consent process.
- Monitoring should be ongoing in order to ensure verification checklist adherence.
Amputation negligence increases in likelihood when this process isn’t followed. Limb removals from the wrong patient or wrong site are exceedingly rare, but common medical mistakes can result in the same outcome. One of the most frequently occurring errors – misdiagnosis – can actually cause an infection to spread until amputation is medically required.
Studies show that 20 percent of all serious medical issues are misdiagnosed. Unfortunately, not even this mistake is the final cause of amputation negligence. Simply consider the following situations:
- Failing to identify and treat blood clots after operations. A full 274 people die daily from blood clots, but their occurrence could also require amputation.
- Leaving medical equipment inside a patient following surgery can lead to a serious infection. If a limb must be removed to save their life, amputation negligence has occurred.
- Incorrect prescribing, administration or dosage of medications can cause serious damage that may require amputation.
If your family is suffering due to amputation negligence, it can be disheartening to learn that it’s not as uncommon as one would hope for. We’ll go into how you can cover the cost of care later, but for now, here are some tips on coping with this new reality.
How Do I Go Forward?
Whether you’re a family member or the patient who experienced amputation malpractice, it’s important to know the following information:
- Depression is common: Up to 41 percent of amputees experience depression. Seek help if necessary.
- Recognize temporary adjustments: Victims of amputation negligence often experience strong emotional reactions – sometimes lashing out at those they love. This is common and typically passes over time.
- Promote self-care: Eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and even focusing on relaxation and breathing exercises can help reduce stress and give an amputee some semblance of control.
- Stay connected: Research shows that creating, maintaining and improving social relationships can help an amputee’s mental state and recovery.
These tips are just the beginning of what’s to come. Fortunately, there are numerous amputee resources available.
National and Maryland Malpractice Statistics
Reviewing both federal and Maryland malpractice statistics showcases just how serious the problem of medical mistakes has become. In fact, studies show that they’re the third leading cause of death in America. This along with the following statistics shows why amputation negligence is such a serious concern:
- Over 4,000 “never events” – including amputation mistakes – occur every year in America.
- Of the wrong-site surgeries reported, 59 percent relate to surgery on the wrong side of the body. The wrong procedure occurs in 14 percent of all cases, and the wrong patient is operated on in 5 percent of instances.
- Up to 90 percent of amputation mistakes and other wrong-site surgeries likely go unreported.
- Maryland is 26th in the nation when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits.
- Public Citizen’s Congress Watch estimated that between 836 and 1,862 Maryland citizens die yearly due to medical errors.
- Maryland hospitals are failing to report malpractice issues. One preventable injury saw only 52 reports in 2013 – even though the number should’ve been over 4,000.
How Do I Get Help for Amputation Negligence?
Doctors often fail to inform their patients of serious medical errors due to fear of lawsuits. If you or a loved one suffered an unexpected or unnecessary amputation, it’s important that you seek out legal help immediately. The costs your family will face alone necessitates seeking out financial compensation. Consider the following:
- The first two years following an amputation result in $91,105 in care costs.
- Over the life of a patient, costs related to amputation will reach $509,275.
- Amputees will purchase an average of 17.4 prosthetics over their lifetimes.
- A single leg prosthetic can cost between $5,000 and $50,000.
No one should face these astronomical costs due to amputation negligence, and they certainly shouldn’t be left wondering due to a physician's refusal to report. For these reasons, it’s absolutely essential that you reach out to a medical malpractice attorney right away. Receiving fair compensation isn’t a handout – it’s a necessity for both financial stability and justice.
Contact Our Amputation Negligence Attorneys
If you suspect a medical error may have led to an unnecessary limb removal, contact us today for a free amputation negligence consultation. We’ll let you know if you might have a case, and if so, we’ll fight to ensure accountability.