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Recognizing Risks Before a Knee or Hip Replacement

Many seniors in Chicago and throughout Illinois face mobility problems. To help, full knee and hip replacements are often recommend by medical professionals to ease various ailments that affect those joints. When successful, the replacements can offer welcome relief to seniors who have spent years faced with pain and movement issues.

However, like all medical procedures, it is absolutely critical for community members to understand the risks of each operation. All medical treatment has some risk, and that is why it is critical for patients to be informed about their options before going forward. Of course, at the end of the day it is up to the patients to decide if they want to go ahead or not. But just because the patient has the ultimate say does not mean that doctors and medical professionals are not without some obligation to provide accurate information about those risks, taking them into account when making recommendations to the patient.

Failure to Identify Risks
A recent article from the American Medical Experts touched on this subject. The authors noted how some medical professionals often fail to recognize the risks–that failure can sometimes be a breach in the basic standard of care owed to medical patients. The key for legal purposes is identifying whether a complication following a procedure could or should have been prevented.

For example, one of the most common complications faced by seniors–including many nursing home residents–is peri-operative infections. This refers to infections that arise during an operation, though it often describes things that occur during admission, anesthesia, surgery, as well as recovery.

The article notes that these infections related to hip and knee replacements are serious, “resulting in significant morbidity, including pain, loss of function, and potential removal of the prosthesis.”

They go on to note that certain factors make that infection more likely. It is critical for medical professional to take those increased risks into account to try to prevent the infection–failure to do so may be a sign of malpractice. When it comes to knee and hip replacement operations, those factors which increase the risk include obesity, extended operation time, smoking, cirrhosis, prior infection, and others.

The authors note that for legal purposes the standard of care for these operations requires the primary surgeon–not just the referring primary care physician–to determine those risks factors. Once identified, the doctor needs to discuss these risks with the patient, explaining how they influence the probability of a post-operative infection. Negligence might be at issue if that discussion does not happen and if complications develop. The medical patient has the right to be fully informed in these cases–making their ultimate choice based on full and accurate information provided to them by their medical professional.

The bottom line lesson for local residents is that there are time when an infection following one of these surgeries could and should have been prevented. Malpractice is not always at play following these complications, but there are certain occasions when the patient suffers because doctors did not properly take risk factors into account.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

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