Solicitor and Managing Partner
It is impossible to overstate the role our joints play in our day-to-day lives. Whether we are going for a jog, picking up shopping bags, typing up an email – even walking from one side of the room to the other – our joints give us the stability and range of movement that most people depend on every day.
There are numerous reasons why our joints fail to provide us with the mobility we are used to, or cause us noticeable pain and discomfort. These include:
The most common reason for joint surgery and joint replacements is long-term wear and tear. Most joint replacements are performed on older age patients, particularly if they have been involved in strenuous activities throughout their lives.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition associated with ongoing wear and tear of the joints. This is where the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones breaks down, resulting in pain, swelling and movement problems that cannot be healed.
Some people will be genetically predisposed to have joint pain and problems, which can necessitate ongoing treatment or surgery to correct.
An example of a congenital joint problem is developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). This is where the “ball and socket” hip joint does not form correctly in babies or young children. This may be treated by having the child wear a Pavlik harness for several weeks or, if the problem is not diagnosed until they are over 6 months old, surgery.
A traumatic, sudden injury, such as a traffic accident, heavy fall or sporting collision, can also cause significant damage to someone’s joints that require surgery to correct.
Other orthopaedic diseases can include bone tumours and sarcomas. These may be experienced as pain and are sometimes visible or felt as a lump under the skin.
Joint replacement is often explored as a last-resort intervention, which is why it can be devastating for patients when the surgery does not go as planned.
Knee and hip replacements are by far the most common form of joint replacement surgery. However, surgery can be performed where necessary on any joint in the body, including shoulders, elbows, ankles, and the joints in the fingers and toes.
While surgical complications can occur during any joint surgery procedure, those we see the most often are usually in relation to patients’ knees, hips and shoulders.
While the vast majority of joint surgeries are conducted to a good standard, and remedy the pain and suffering that the patient had been experiencing, errors do happen. Whether it is due to a lapse in concentration or a misinterpreting scans, there are several ways that a joint procedure can go wrong:
It is vital for surgeons to protect the nerves and blood vessels surrounding the operation site. If the nerves are stretched or damaged, or injury to the blood vessels is not addressed during surgery or not promptly identified post-operation, it can cause a range of serious issues.
For example, if blood supply is restricted to the nerves or muscles, they mayd die which could result in long-term nerve damage and muscle wastage.
If a prosthesis is fitted during a joint replacement surgery, it has to fit well in order for the surgery to be considered a success. If the components used are either too large or too small, this can negatively affect a person’s wellbeing, movement and stability in the coming weeks, months and years.
For instance, if the artificial component used in a knee replacement is too small, it can limit how much the patient’s knee can bend, or cause pain. If the component is too large, it can lead to instability, affecting someone’s balance and ability to move unaided.
There is a limit to the number of times that a single joint can be replaced. This means that an error made by a surgeon which requires a revision to correct it can greatly alter someone’s limb function and mobility in the long term.
If the prosthesis itself is faulty, and the surgeon was not aware of this, this is not a medical negligence claim, but a product liability claim.
If the angle at which a prosthesis is fitted is incorrect, this can also cause ongoing pain and lead to problems with movement and stability. When a component is not positioned correctly or securely, it can gradually become loose and unstable, even if the surgery initially appears to have been successful.
In severe cases, tissue damage may be caused by loose components, which may irritate and could cause infection and permanent mobility problems even after corrective surgery.
As is the case with any surgical procedure, open wounds and cuts can provide entry points for bacteria and viruses to enter the body. In addition, contaminants may also be transferred into the body via a prosthesis or artificial component.
A never event is when something entirely preventable occurs during surgery that has negative repercussions for the patient, including:
Swabs or instruments being left inside the body
Surgery being performed on the wrong part of the body
The wrong type of blood given during a blood transfusion
Other potential errors that can occur during joint surgery can include:
Using too little or too much anaesthetic
Removing too much or too little bone during an osteotomy
Poor monitoring by medical professionals pre- and post-surgery
Damage to tissues, cartilage, ligaments or veins
In the rare occasions where joint surgery goes wrong, it can have life-altering consequences. We rely on our joints for even the most routine actions so that if their function is impeded by pain or a reduced range of motion, it can dramatically change how we are able to approach each day.
The consequences could be relatively short lived, such as requiring additional surgeries or treatments to resolve the problems caused by the first procedure. This may mean enduring pain for a longer period of time, or lead to a loss of earnings as you cannot work while your joints are recovering.
But the problems caused by orthopaedic surgery may result in pain, instability and loss of mobility that affects you for the rest of your life. Having one or more of your joints be permanently damaged as a result of surgical complications can impact:
Your ability to work, especially if it involves a lot of movement or manual labour
Your ability to travel, either driving yourself or taking public transport
Your ability to move around the home, particularly if you have multiple floors
Lasting damage to your joints can rob you of your independence and spontaneity, making you more dependent on others to help you navigate day-to-day life, and hinder your ability to earn the money you need to support you and your loved ones.
In the most extreme cases, loss of blood flow to a limb caused by a mistake during surgery could mean it needs to be amputated. This will not only greatly restrict someone’s independence and capabilities, but it can also have repercussions on their self-image and psychological health.
As qualified and specialised medical negligence solicitors with over 20 years experience, we are experts at handling joint surgery claim cases.
Our credentials and established reputation mean that hospitals and trusts are willing to work with us, and often recommend us, to seek fair outcomes for claimants to receive the compensation they deserve.
Trust us with your compensation claim and contact us today to see how we can help you.
Compensation cannot take you back in time to before your surgery took place. But, it can help return you to the position you would be in had the surgery been successful or, where this is sadly not possible, improve your experience and quality of life following the injuries you have suffered.
Both the value and how the compensation you receive is used will be entirely dependent on how great an impact your injuries have had on your life. However, following successful joint surgery claims these can often include:
If your life has been changed by the negligence of a surgeon or another healthcare professional, we work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation you need to support you and your family’s future.
In all forms of clinical negligence, the onus is on the claimant to prove that a medical professional breached their duty of care, and that this was the direct cause of their pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
As specialist negligence solicitors, we will thoroughly investigate all available evidence associated with your claim, including:
Independent medical opinion
As part of our investigations, we will work with an impartial independent orthopaedic surgeon that specialises in your affected area – shoulder, hip, knee, etc. Their insight and expertise is crucial to help us establish:
Whether your surgeon or another healthcare professional breached their duty of care towards you
Whether your surgeon’s actions or inactions directly caused the pain and suffering you experienced
How your circumstances have changed, and what support you need moving forward
With this information, we will be able to determine whether you have a valid claim, and quantify the amount of compensation you are entitled to.
Every joint injury claim is unique, and we recognise it is important to treat each case as such. Therefore it is impossible to predict exactly how long these claims take to settle, although in the majority of cases we would expect anywhere between 2 and 5 years.
This length of a claim will depend on a variety of factors, including the stance taken by the defendants and how long it takes to receive information from medical experts.
However, by working with a specialist medical negligence firm like Gadsby Wicks, you ensure that your claim is handled as efficiently as possible by people who know what they need to achieve the result you deserve.
In most cases, you must make a joint surgery claim within 3 years of your injury being realised. However, there are exceptions:
Children making a claim have until their 21st birthday
There is no time limit for anyone who is mentally incapacitated
If the claimant passes away within the 3-year window, the 3 years start again from their date of death
The Court also has discretion to allow claims to be brought out of time. Contact us today and we will be happy to discuss your situation.
Mistakes made during joint surgery have the potential to limit someone’s mobility and function for the rest of their life, have serious repercussions on their finances, personal life and emotional wellbeing. When the stakes are this high, we ensure you receive the compensation, answers and justice that you are owed.
Our medical negligence team at Gadsby Wicks has supported clients in Essex, East Anglia and beyond for over 25 years. In that time, we have helped many affected by complications during joint surgery to gain the financial security they need to live as fulfilling and comfortable a life as possible.
We can undertake your claim on a no win, no fee basis
We assign one solicitor to guide you through the claims process from start to finish
96% of our cases settle without going to court
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
We were the first firm in England to have two or more lawyers accredited as clinical negligence specialists by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
If you are ready to pursue your right to justice, complete our online ‘Do I have a claim?’ form and we will be in touch as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can reach us directly through our contact page for a free initial consultation.
If you or a loved one have experienced joint surgery caused by negligence and would like to speak to someone about your options, our team is here to listen and advise you on your next steps.