Amputation, or the surgical removal of a body part, is often necessary to prevent infection, reduce pain, and remove damaged tissue or limbs. However, sometimes amputation is the result of negligent medical practices. Amputation victims may experience immobility, decreased independence, complications, and reduced quality of life. If your amputation happened at the fault of negligent medical providers, you have a right to medical care, followed by ongoing treatments and therapy.
Learn more about the common types and reasons for amputations, when amputations are considered medical malpractice, and how our lawyers can help maximize your recovery.
Fortunately, medical amputations are rare. However, sometimes, they are necessary to prevent the spread of infection, alleviate pain, and eliminate irreparable tissue.
Types of amputations include:
- Partial Amputation (or Disarticulation) removes part of a bone, joint, or limb, preserving as much function as possible.
- Below-Knee Amputation (BKA) removes the lower leg, just below the knee joint.
- Above-Knee Amputation (AKA) removes the upper leg above the knee joint.
- Below-Elbow Amputation (BEA) removes the forearm below the elbow joint.
- Above-Elbow Amputation (AEA) removes the arm above the elbow joint.
There are many reasons a doctor might perform an amputation, including:
- Trauma. If a doctor cannot save the limb after an injury from a severe accident, it may need to be removed.
- Infection. To prevent the spread of disease to other parts of the body and save one’s life, removal of a severely infected limb is sometimes necessary.
- Peripheral Neuropathy. Conditions causing nerve damage, like diabetes, can cause permanent ulcers and infections that must be removed.
- Congenital Conditions. In some cases, people born with genetic conditions may require amputation to improve mobility or quality of life.
- Peripheral Vascular Disease. Blood vessel conditions, like peripheral arterial disease (PAD), can reduce blood flow in limbs. If blood flow reduces too much, the tissue may become unusable.
- Cancer. Bone, muscle, or tissue tumors may need to be removed to prevent the spread of cancer.
- Orthopedic Issues. Severe orthopedic challenges, like malformations or chronic joint disease, may eventually require amputation if left untreated.
Amputation and Medical Malpractice
While amputations are sometimes necessary, they can also be the result of medical malpractice or negligence. If a medical team doesn’t exercise proper procedures and care for an injury, it may escalate to the point of amputation.
Negligence that could cause an unexpected amputation include:
- Surgical errors
- Wrong-site surgery
- Inadequate blood supply during surgery
- Failure to monitor postoperative complications
- Nerve damage during surgery
- Failure to diagnose and treat infections
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of vascular conditions
- Delayed treatment of trauma
- Pharmaceutical errors
- Wound care negligence
Amputation can cause several side effects, including:
- Phantom Limb Sensations or Pain. Phantom limb sensations are pain, itching, or a sense of movement in the absent limb. If the pain is severe enough, it may require additional treatment.
- Prosthesis-Related Issues. People wearing prosthetics may experience pressure sores, discomfort, or irritation. These challenges are usually easy to treat.
- Mobility Changes. Removing a limb can significantly reduce mobility. Rehabilitation and physical therapy are critical to learning to walk or move with a prosthetic limb.
- Loss of Independence. People who have undergone amputation must learn new ways to perform daily activities. Often, this includes support from others, which can lead to a feeling of dependence or helplessness.
- Contractures. Prolonged immobility causes joints and muscles to become fixed in a particular position, also known as contractures. Contractures limit one’s range of motion, flexibility, and ability to perform necessary tasks.
- Chronic Pain. Chronic pain, including stump, residual limb, and neuroma pain, can occur after amputation.
- Balance or Coordination Difficulties. During the early stages of amputation adaptation, people may experience trouble with balance and coordination. Physical therapy can help to regain mobility and stability.
- Emotional and Psychological Challenges. Grief, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem are common after an amputation, and they can have a severe impact on one’s overall quality of life. Counseling and therapy are essential to recovery.
Recovery for amputation depends on severity, accountable parties, and complications. If you’ve been injured, you have a right to seek compensation. An experienced lawyer can help you maximize compensation.
Damages awarded typically include:
- Past and future medical costs
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing pain and suffering
Who is Responsible?
Preventing unexpected amputation involves a combination of safety measures, training, and adherence to regulations. Medical providers should conduct risk assessments, implement safety protocols, and provide appropriate training to reduce the risk of incidents and medical malpractice. Medical providers can be held responsible if they do not take these steps to protect patients.
When an injury results from negligence, seeking legal help is vital to hold them responsible.
If no one is responsible, you can still receive damages from workers’ compensation.
How We Can Help
If you or a loved one has experienced complications from an injury, Golitko & Daly can help. Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers fight for the compensation you deserve and hold the responsible parties accountable.
To schedule a free consultation, call us at 317-566-9600 (Indianapolis), 765-865-9300 (Bloomington), or 812-566-2600 (Kokomo), or complete our online inquiry form to schedule an appointment* with one of our medical malpractice attorneys who will review your case.