Medical Malpractice/Malpractice??


Hello, I have had 9 knee surgeries on my left leg since 1998. They were a few scopes, an HTO with a fixator, TKR, and a Revision. On my first knee replacement in 2005 I would tell my doctor about always having pain in my leg. He would xray it and say it was perfect. Finally went for a 2nd opinion to 2 different drs. They told me looking at my xrays the new knee is  loose. At that time my both legs were completely even in length. After my revision my surgical leg is now 1" longer. I was having problems with pain, my wife measured my leg and said it was longer than the right leg. Told my dr and he was amazed that it happened. He told me to get a lift for my shoe. Then after thinking about it he said that the ligament was loose he had to put in a bigger knee. Really don't believe that.  I said I did not come in for a leg extention just a knee replacement. Now my both knees hurt with my back and hips. I feel worse now than before the surgery. Is the dr who did the first TKR be responsible for not looking further when I told him it was still hurting (maybe the ligament would not have stretched) or the dr who gave me an extra inch in my knee after the revision? Is anyone responsible for this? Thank You so much for your help    Bill

Is anyone responsible for these problems you are having?  In a medical sense, maybe.  Maybe more skilled orthopedic surgeons could have achieved a much better result for you.  But your history is so extensive and complicated with 9 surgeries including 2 replacements, it would no doubt be very difficult to identify exactly where things went wrong.  Only an orthopedic surgeon could really answer the question you pose.  I use the following allegory to help clients understand the legal part of the question:  Imagine 10 highly skilled orthopedic surgeons who have studied in greatest detail the entire history of that knee and all of the surgery and treatment it has received.  You might have a viable malpractice case if say 7 or 8 of them would sign onto the following statement:  "We don't know what Dr. X was thinking when he decided to do the [one of the surgeries] in the way he did.  Dr. X was negligent in his measuring, fitting, installing etc. etc. during the surgery and a reasonably competent surgeon would never have done so.  Because of this negligence (malpractice), Bill has suffered a very severe disability that really cannot be corrected.  If the surgery was done properly, Bill would likely have had a much much better outcome".

In other words, a surgeon is not legally responsibile (you could sue him successfully and be awarded compensation) just because the result is not good.  There is only case if the poor result was due to negligence.  The law does not require surgeons to guarantee a good result. So, unless you know a surgeon who has or would say that your surgeon "really screwed up" and as a result you have suffered very substantial damages (permanent impairment, years of lost earnings, etc.) there is no case because of the economics involved.

Which leads to this: First thing a lawyer would have to do is search for that surgeon and pay him probably $3-5,000 just to review your entire history and reach a conclusion as to whether your surgeons met the standard of care.  Probably 75% chance that the "expert" would say "well, Dr. X could have approached the case in a different way and a better result could have been achieved but the surgery was done to the STANDARD OF CARE."  Or, there is the 25% chance that your expert would make the other statement that I listed.  But even then, your attorney is looking at many thousands more out of pocket for your expert, litigation costs, and costs to take depositions of experts on the other side, hired by Dr. X's insurance co. that will say "it is unfortunate that Bill didn't have the best result but Dr. X performed the surgery within the STANDARD OF CARE.  There was not any negligence or malpractice".  

Bottom line, you need to have a severe disability that can't be corrected by yet another surgery.  If you do, and I hope you don't, then it is worth speaking with an attorney. But if the problem can be improved, even with more surgery and more pain and suffering and cost for you, the damages just aren't high enough to interest an attorney in taking on the case that will cost him 10s of thousands and hundreds of hours of time just on a chance that he could get a settlement or verdict of at least $350,000 or so.  I think that is the likely threshold and I don't think your case gets close to that.

Also, there are time limits on how long you can wait to sue.  Check out the STatute of Limitations Medical Malpractice for your State to learn more about that.  Best bet, find a surgeon who can repair the leg length issue, hope for the best.  Unlikely you have legal recourse.  Hope this helps.  It is based on my experience of 35 years suing medical providers for negligent care (malpractice).

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Glenn A. Dorfman


Thirty-four years experience in personal injury, medical malpractice and medical product liability law. Qualified to answer all questions regarding injuries and the law, except for worker`s compensation. Also wide experience in medical product defect cases ie current litigation regarding the Johnson&Johnson (DePuy)defective hip implant cases and Mirena IUD issues


Thirty-four years experience handling cases involving auto accidents, trips and fall, fires, dog bite,medical malpractice and defective medical product cases with particular emphasis in 2012 and beyond with the DePuy ASR (Johnson&Johnson) defective hip implant cases. Twenty-five years of experience with defective IUD issues as well

Jurisdoctor Degree 1976 and Member in good standing with CA State Bar Assoc. since 1976

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