Medical malpractice cases involving amputation of limbs involve a number of special considerations. Amputations are surprisingly common. The Amputee Coalition reports the following statistics regarding amputations in the U.S.:
- There are nearly 2 million people living with limb loss in the United States.
- Trauma, such as car accidents and workplace injuries account for 45% of the total.
- Approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the United States each year.
- In 2009, hospital costs associated with amputation totaled more than $8.3 billion.
The economic consequences of an amputated leg or arm are devastating. Following an unexpected amputation, an individual is likely to drop out of the workforce altogether as they adjust to their new body and overcome a host of immediate challenges. The initial medical expenses for surgery and rehabilitation are huge. But the expenses continue to accrue over the individual’s lifetime. For example, in a recent case involving a middle-aged woman, our experts calculated that future costs of care, including replacement prosthetic limbs, therapy, home modifications, and wound management, would exceed $1M over the individual’s life.
In addition to costs of care, an amputated limb limits the individual’s ability to work. Not only does the lack of 4 working extremities compromise the individual’s job prospects, but depression which often accompanies an amputation can lead to difficulties with employment. Further adding to the costs is the fact that patients who lose a limb from preventable medical errors or trauma have normal life expectancy, so their losses add up over time.
Obviously not all amputations result from medical negligence. However, as medical malpractice attorneys, we have seen our fair share of the cases. Common scenarios involve delay in treating sepsis leading to shock, delayed diagnosis of circulatory compromise, wrong site surgery, and delay in treatment leading to the need for vasoconstrictive medications (e.g., Levophed) that compromise circulation.