Knee arthroscopy- procedure, benefits, risks and malpractices

For any orthopedic malpractices, you’ll need an orthopedic expert witness. Be it ankle surgery or knee arthroscopy or knee replacement, there can be errors. In this article, you’ll learn about knee arthroscopy, its benefits, and risks. Besides this, you’ll also know why malpractices may occur and how these expert witnesses can help you. Medico-legal opinion on malpractice cases is highly important and in this article, you’ll know why they are important. Before that, one should understand what knee arthroscopy is.

Unlike other surgical procedures, an arthroscopy is relatively a safe option. The surgeon makes use of an arthroscope for treating and diagnosing the problems in your knee joints. A tiny camera is attached to the arthroscope which allows the surgeon to carefully look at the damages. It requires small incisions, which makes arthroscopy a better option than the other open surgeries. There’s a growing demand for knee arthroscopy because it takes a few hours to perform the surgery and requires shorter recovery times. Serious complications are not very common but still, some patients might get complications because of the negligence of the surgeon or due to failure of the patient to take care of their health. If the injuries are sustained because of the negligence of the healthcare provider, then there will be a case of malpractice. You have to read this article to know what steps you can take in case of malpractice.

Benefits and risks:

Knee arthroscopy is a safe procedure as compared to the other open surgeries. A small tool i.e. arthroscope is used which is inserted inside the skin through small cuts. This minimally invasive procedure is beneficial for treating several problems like:

  • Damaged cartilage
  • Build-up of fluid that requires immediate drainage
  • Floating fragments of cartilage or bones
  • Persistent pain in joint and stiffness

There’s a reason why people prefer knee arthroscopy over other surgical procedures. It is mostly because of the procedure:

  • Is minimally invasive
  • Has faster recovery
  • Has less tissue damage
  • Causes less pain because of anesthesia
  • Has a lower chance of developing infection because of small incisions.

Though arthroscopy is a safe procedure with an excellent rate of recovery, people might face complications because of their previous medical history or because of the negligence of the surgeon. A person is exposed to an increased risk of infections and bleeding from the joints during or after surgery. Some people are also allergic to anesthesia and this is something that the doctor should consider before performing the surgery or else the patient can file a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor. Some specific risks to knee arthroscopy have been listed below.

  • Frozen or stiffness in the knees
  • Damages to tissues and nerves
  • Knee infection
  • Bleeding in the joints
  • Blood clots

Most people recover from these side effects but some patients might face difficulties. If you are facing similar situations like this, then you may need help from an attorney. These attorneys will call upon an orthopedic expert witness to determine if there has been malpractice. Also, it is important to find out if the complainant is responsible for their own injuries. This is known as contributory negligence. There will be a deduction not only from the compensation amount but the jury may also penalize the plaintiff for imposing allegations. This is the reason why an orthopedic expert witness is crucial in a malpractice case. Now the question is what do surgical malpractices entail.

When can you file a lawsuit against your surgeon?

A doctor is responsible for all the procedures involved in the surgery. Every step in the procedure is different but they typically require the medical professional to review the patient’s health condition and precisely studying the critical measurements. Therefore, the doctor needs to exercise utmost caution while acting before, during, and after the surgery. Malpractice lawsuits can be filed against the doctor for breaching the duty of care towards the patient.

Actions before surgery:

Most of the surgical malpractices take place because of the doctor failing to give a proper consultation to the patient. Tests should be conducted to find out any other underlying medical conditions. The doctor should analyze the previous medical history of the patient and decide the course of action accordingly. All the alternatives have to be discussed and the procedure should be thoroughly explained including the risks and the benefits. There needs to be informed consent from the patient both in verbal and written forms. This is done to ensure that the patient in spite of knowing all the pros and cons is giving consent to the doctor to perform the surgery.

Actions during surgery:

The doctors have to be very careful while performing the surgery to reduce the chances of potential errors. This includes operating the right body part. Instances of malpractice during surgery include-

  • Cutting the wrong body organ
  • Failure to establish clear communication between the doctor and the other helping medical staff.
  • Inexperienced surgeon not having sufficient knowledge to complete a procedure.
  • Leaving foreign objects like surgical tools or other items inside of the patient’s body.
  • Failure to use disinfected equipment while performing surgery.
  • Causing damage to one’s organ after a doctor perforates an organ or part of the body.

Actions after surgery

Once the surgery is done, the area should be bandaged followed by a meet-up with the patient to discuss the things that need to be done. This stage is known as the post-operative stage in which the doctor needs to keep the patient under observation for a few hours. This is an important step as it helps in knowing if the patient can be released from the hospital or if the patient needs some more treatment or care.

If the doctor fails to keep up with the established standard of care, the patient can seek compensation for the damages caused to them. This includes compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and others.

How do orthopedic witnesses help in surgical malpractices?

If you or your loved ones have faced surgical malpractice, then you will need a legal representative. An orthopedic expert witness plays a key role in medical negligence cases. Parties involved in malpractice litigation need to understand which instances can lead to malpractice. This is one of the reasons why it is important to hire the right expert witness. Some of the major roles played by an orthopedic expert witness can be listed as follows:

  • To offer impartial, credible, and evidence-based reviews on the case within their medical expertise.
  • To provide a simplified version of the complex elements of the case for which the jury will need assistance. These case reviews and facts must be on the basis of common professional practice.
  • To corroborate with the other party to slim down the technical faults in the initial stage and to rule out the peripheral issues in the later stage of the case.
  • To offer evidence to the court that is neutral and free from biases.
  • To conduct Independent Medical Examination if required.
  • To make it clear that certain areas fall outside their scope of work and expertise.

Expert witnesses are central in surgical malpractice cases. These cases are highly complicated because most of them are technical in nature. Usually, the equipment used might be faulty or the doctor might use the wrong equipment for the surgery. These are a few instances of technical errors. The juries and the solicitors do not have in-depth knowledge of the intricate complexities of the case and this is the main reason why an orthopedic expert witness is called upon by the attorney. They present the case facts in front of the jury in a simplified manner so that they can be digested by them. After all, this is the reason why orthopedic experts are called!

Another essential role played by an orthopedic expert witness is providing a detailed review of the case based on his knowledge and expertise. The explanations include- how a doctor has breached the duty of care, quantify the injuries and damages caused, and will determine what errors took place while the surgery was performed. Besides this, they will also determine what another medical practitioner of the same credential would have done to avoid injuries.

Expert witnesses are important not only for the plaintiff but also for the defendant. This is because the defendant’s attorney can also hire an expert for testifying on behalf and to invalidate the prosecution’s testimony.

Calculating damages in medical malpractice cases:

An orthopedic expert witness involved at the damage stage focuses on the facts connecting the injury to the damages, mainly concentrates on economic damages-i.e. monetary damages. The amount of compensation is calculated in the following manner:

  • Will analyze the data to calculate the gravity of the damages especially if the damages have accumulated over the years or in other ways like reduction in income due to an injury.
  • Consults the medical malpractice attorney while discovering the damages
  • Providing a means to calculate the damages and explaining to the jury as to why such calculation was made and why the calculation method is appropriate in this particular case.
  • Determines the value of reductions or deductions, if any.

The orthopedic expert witness will assign the amount to various types of damages. There’s a reason why these expert witnesses should be selected very carefully. The right expert can explain how the calculation was done and how those numbers were reached, helping the decision-makers to understand why that amount is correct in this particular case. Usually, the expert witnesses focus mainly on economic damages like- medical bills, loss of income, etc. However, if the case is a serious one, then the expert witness may also assist in calculating the non-economic damages. Such compensation includes- pain and suffering, emotional distress, and others. But what is important to note here is that the expert witnesses may not directly testify on non-economic damages. But the calculations made by the expert on economic damages may aid in analyzing the non-economic damages.

Tips for choosing an orthopedic expert witness

Attorneys retaining an expert witness must keep the following items in mind. Below mentioned is a list of things that you must keep in mind before selecting an orthopedic expert witness.

  • Look for an expert who can clearly explain how calculations were done. This is because the jury needs to understand why such a compensation amount has been determined.
  • An expert should be retained based on their experience in the subject matter. Determining the cause and effect is one of the difficult things to prove. Hence, the expert needs to be an experienced one to determine that the negligence of the doctor caused injuries to the patient.
  • Thirdly, persuasive skills play an integral role. . An expert may be highly experienced but he needs to be persuasive at the same time. They should be able to convince the jurors of the explanations they offer. Unless they’re able to convince the jury about their findings and facts, it’s difficult to win the case. So one has to go through the past records of the expert witnesses before hiring them. An expert witness can make or break a case and this is the very reason why their selection has to be done carefully.

Last but not the least; the orthopedic witnesses should have the tenacity to present strong facts against the counter-attacks from the defense attorneys or expert witnesses. Note that the jurors may not accept everything that the experts say but without their medico-legal opinion, it’s impossible to give a fair judgment.

Choosing the best expert witness requires the attorney to consider various things including knowledge, objectivity, and performance. Making the right choice could make all the difference in helping you win the case. Besides this, having an orthopedic expert witness in knee arthroscopic malpractices can strengthen the case.