Unequal Leg Length Can Be Avoided in Hip Replacement Surgery
One possible complication following total hip replacement surgery is a significant discrepancy in leg length as a result of the placement of the new hip joint.
Significant lengthening of the operated leg of greater than 3/4 inch (1.5 cm) or longer, is considered by many orthopedic hip experts to be an unacceptable complication caused by the surgeon’s negligence and may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. In some situations, leg lengthening of less than 3/4 inch (1.5 cm) may still result in post-operative complications and a prolonged recovery period and could also be grounds for a malpractice claim.
Unequal leg length can cause severe problems for the patient, including limping, loss of balance, pain, nerve damage, and drop foot. It is the surgeon’s responsibility to take precautions to ensure correct leg length. This involves taking precise measurements of the patient’s hips and legs prior, during and after the surgery, proper selection of prosthesis, careful preparation for the surgical procedure, and having the requisite competence and skill to perform the surgery
How Does Unequal Leg Length Occur?
The length of the leg on the side where the surgery has been performed will be determined by where the neck of the femur is cut, the size of the implant selected, and the machined depth of the socket and proper placement of the implant. To make these determinations in preparation for the surgery, the surgeon must take measurements and perform pre-operative planning.
X-rays Are Essential in Avoiding Unequal Length in Leg
Research has shown that measurements in the absence of x-rays are not sufficiently accurate, although some physicians continue to rely on these alone. Taking an additional pelvic x-ray during the operation can help the surgeon to assess the accuracy of measurements and make appropriate adjustments, but this is sometimes not done. Before beginning the surgery, the patient should be placed in the proper position to allow assessment of leg length during the operation.
Post-surgical Follow-up and Prompt Attention to Complaints Is a Must
The surgeon must promptly assess any postoperative problems the patient reports, including ordering necessary tests, consultations and therapy.
What Recourse Does a Patient Have?
Although something negative may have occurred during your surgery, it doesn't necessarily mean the doctor was at fault. For instance, a patient suffering from discrepancies in leg length or other postoperative complications following hip replacement surgery may have a claim against the surgeon for medical malpractice. While not all such complications are caused by malpractice, it is possible the problems are a result of negligence on the part of the surgeon. If the symptoms don’t resolve in the weeks following the surgery, the patient should consult a Florida medical malpractice lawyer for a thorough evaluation to determine if the problems have resulted from physician negligence.
Time to Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim is Limited
Because Florida has a specific statute of limitations in which an action for medical malpractice can be filed, a Florida medical malpractice lawyer should be brought in at the earliest suspicion that there is a problem that may be the result of physician negligence.
While not all surgical complications are caused by physician error, many are, and this can be determined by having an experienced medical malpractice attorney review your case. Once the state’s statute of limitations, or time limit, has expired, the patient may lose the right to make a claim for just compensation.
If you believe your medical practitioner was negligent or you may have been subjected to medical malpractice you need to speak with an experienced attorney. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.815.6398. We will be happy to answer any questions during your free consultation. Based on your specific circumstances, we may co-counsel with your case with another medical malpractice attorney.