Medical Malpractice/What should I do about surgery I had that appears to be less than the
QUESTION: Dear Sir,
Last year I had shoulder replacement surgery. It didn't go as well as I had expected. Since then I have had pain raising my arm above 90 degrees. My bicep is apparently gone due to atrophy? I had one before the surgery! I also have numbness in my arm (front) which extends almost the entire length of my arm.
I went to the doctor who did the surgery and asked him 1) Why the pain? 2) Where's my bicep? 3) Will the numbness go away? His uniform answer to these questions was, "I don't know". There were also things on the xray that he didn't understand, saying "What's this" in one case.
Since then, I have been to two doctors seeking answers. They both were very cagey and what I would call skittish, especially when I mentioned negligence. The first Dr. I went to said, "The surgery was not done well" and doubted that I had ever had a bicep since an accident that happened when I was 15. I'm 67 now. I told him that I indeed had had a bicep before the surgery and had been a Jr High, Sr High, and College gymnast. He all but called me a liar. The second doctor was one I had earlier gotten a second opinion from but then chose the doctor I had do the surgery because of the "great" success of 4 earlier surgeries (2 knees and 2 hips) that he had done. This second doctor said that, "He would have used a different prosthetic and done the surgery "better". There is too much distance between the ends of the prosthesis, one in my arm and one replacing my shoulder joint. I was told by this doctor that a "revision" would be dangerous with increased risk of infection and an outcome that was somewhat iffy considering that the current prosthesis would have to be removed and the "right" one installed. At this time, it is unclear as to the possible outcome of this revision. Better than now? Worse than now? The same?
It is my feeling that the doctor who did the surgery did NOT exercise good judgement and skill in performing this surgery as one would commonly expect for this kind of surgery (accepted levels of practice?). I feel this lack of skill and judgment represents negligence on his part. The pre and post care relating to this surgery was also negligent I feel. I was sent home from the hospital after two days and was not ready to be home.
This surgery was paid for by Medicare.
I don't know what to do now. Sue? Complain to AMA? Complain to licensing boards in CA? Complain to other agencies? Complain to the District Attorney? What are the steps that I should take? How do I find a lawyer to help me with this problem? I want a "Perry Mason" type, cool, smooth and bloodthirsty.
Regards and thank you for your help with this,
I am sorry to hear about your continuing problem. Often times, potential clients come to see me as an attorney because they just want to find out what happened to them and why.
My suggestion is that you go speak with a California medical malpractice attorney. Unfortunately, tort reform is a major hindrance in California for seeking justice regarding malpractice cases such as this. You really need to retain an independent expert to look at the whole case and determine if the surgeon was negligent and how it can be alleviated.
I wish you the best.
Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.
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QUESTION: Thank you so much for answering my question(s), it's definitely appreciated.
How can I find an attorney who isn't just a stick in the mud? I had an estate attorney for my mom's estate who just took my money. She was really just my sister's other attorney. I'm more than a little gun shy these days. It's gotta be more than just asking them if they're good.
Regards and THANK YOU for your response AND your time,
I have two sites for you to go to. These are both National Trial Attorney websites where we have to become specialized by number of trials. The first is the American Board of Trial Attorneys which is www.abota.org. The National Board of Trial Advocates is based on number of trials and a fairly rigorous test at www.nbtalawyers.org. Both are very legitimate organizations and there are lists of attorneys by states.