The Risks of Revision Surgeries

The Risks of Revision SurgeriesNo surgery is without risk, especially if the individual is older and or immune-compromised. Revision surgeries, or those where surgeons correct or alter their patients’ previous surgical procedures, are arguably even more risky. Errors resulting in revision surgeries are sometimes due to medical malpractice, though not always. In some revision surgeries, an erroneous 501(k) Clearance process is to blame.

Revision surgeries are often more complex than their standard counterparts. For example, say a person who had previously undergone knee surgery needs the implant replaced. The surgeon must first remove the old implant, which has grown into the patient’s natural bone tissue. After carefully removing the implant and eliminating any scar tissue, the surgeon might need to perform a bone graft. This is because when a knee replacement prosthetic is removed, there is usually less natural bone to work with, and bone from either the patient’s body or a donor is used to provide support for the new implant.

Knee replacement revision surgery is actually a two-part process. First, the surgeon removes the old implant and inserts an antibiotic-treated spacer in the patient’s knee. During the second procedure, the surgeon removes the spacer, reshapes existing bone tissue, then places the new prosthetic in the patient’s knee and adds a bone graft, if applicable. These procedures are typically six weeks apart, with risks including:

  • New implant-related infections
  • Implant loosening or dislocation
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Rapid bone tissue loss
  • Operation-related bone fractures
  • Leg length discrepancies
  • Heterotopic bone formation, or bone growth on the lower end of the femur after a procedure
  • Longer recovery time
  • The issue was not fully corrected

There is also a 30-day mortality rate following knee replacement revision surgery, though the risk is between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent.

Other revision surgeries pose dangers as well, including hip replacement or hip replacement revision surgery where cobalt poisoning occurs. Cobalt is a type of metal utilized in these types of surgeries, though it is also found in pacemakers and other medical devices. If too much cobalt is used, poisoning symptoms such as ringing in the ears, nerve issues, deafness, vision problems, thickened blood, and thyroid issues can result. Cardiomyopathy, or when the heart becomes “floppy and big” is another cobalt poisoning-related complication that makes it challenging for the organ to pump blood.

Finally, a patient may need a revision or secondary surgery because of a defect in the actual device, or because of negligence in the original procedure.

Revision surgeries are additionally dangerous because they are often performed on older individuals, like hip replacement surgery alterations. In those 65 and older, the chance of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cerebrovascular and coronary disease is higher, which can cause surgical complications. An older person with hypertension, for example, is at greater risk of a stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, or kidney problems during or after surgery.

Establishing liability in revision surgery injury cases

When a complication occurs following revision surgery, the issue could simply be related to the patient’s current health. For example, if the patient has hypertension and experiences a stroke after surgery, there is typically no grounds for legal action. The patient might be able to make a legal claim if they were not made aware of the stroke possibility and other surgical risks, or the surgeon and surgical attendants did not do their jobs correctly. However, if the procedure went well, the surgical team adhered to all necessary processes and protocols, and the patient’s life depended on the surgery, there is no liable party.

To establish medical malpractice in a surgery revision case, the patient must show that the surgeon breached the duty of care they owed the individual. For example, say a surgeon did not treat a knee replacement spacer with antibiotics despite it being a hospital policy and dropped said spacer on the floor. The patient experienced a severe, possibly life-threatening infection as a result. Since the infection is the direct result of the contaminated spacer, there is grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

In other cases, the company that produced the implant or other medical device is liable. For example, say a hip replacement implant featured high levels of cobalt and poisoning symptoms resulted. If the medical device manufacturer opted for the 510(k) Clearance process and therefore skipped implant testing, they face legal repercussions. This clearance means the company was allowed to market a product in light of its similarity to an existing device, but their device does not feature  true FDA approval. In addition to hip implants, eligible 510(k) Clearance products include other joint prostheses, IVC filters, and pacemakers.

How much is my Mississippi medical malpractice claim worth?

If medical malpractice or a 510(k) Clearance-related legal issue resulted in a revision surgery and related injuries, it is possible to request numerous damages. Common damages in such claims can include economic damages such as lost wages, emergency medical care, physical therapy and prescription medication, trauma counseling, and disability. Economic damages cover the expenses related to the claim, while non-economic damages refer to emotional and psychological ramifications of the injury. Typical non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of life’s enjoyment, mental anguish, and emotional distress.

When a revision surgery injury or ongoing health issue is due to another person or entity’s negligence, contacting a lawyer is the right course. If the incident occurs in Mississippi, you have two years to file from the date of the injury as per Section 15-1-36. By contacting an attorney as soon as possible, you give the legal professional sufficient time to gather evidence and file a claim.

Contact Merkel & Cocke, P.A. today to discuss your case. Our personal injury lawyers serve Jackson, Clarksdale, Greenville, and Oxford, MS, and offer nearly 200 years of combined experience. Call our office to schedule a free consultation or complete our contact form.