Failure to Diagnose Septic Arthritis

If you lost a limb because a doctor failed to diagnose septic arthritis, you may have the right to sue for compensation. Septic arthritis is generally caused by an infection of the knee that is not caught in time.


Attorneys at Pritzker Hageman Successfully Represents Man in Medical Malpractice Claim Involving Failure to Diagnose and Treat Septic Arthritis

Attorneys on Fred Pritzker’s pathogen legal team recently secured a $950,000 recovery on behalf of a young man who developed septic arthritis eight days following knee surgery. The suit alleged that the doctors responsible for his care failed to recognize, test and treat his knee infection. Experts retained on behalf of the young man offered evidence that the doctors failed to recognize the symptoms of septic arthritis, failed to perform arthrocentesis, failed to open the knee capsule and drain out and remove infected fluid and tissue and failed to place the patient on IV antibiotics. He later required massive skin grafting to cover the large leg wound that resulted from the infection. As a result of the damage to the articular cartilage in his knee, the young man will experience pain and increasing disability that will lead to extensive future treatment including knee replacement and perhaps above-the-knee amputation: “Medical Malpractice and Amputation.”

What is Septic Arthritis?

Septic arthritis, also known as reactive arthritis, bacterial arthritis and a number of other names, involves an infection in the body’s joint spaces. The infection can be caused by a number of microorganisms including bacteria (most often staphylococcus aureus). The knee joint is the most common location for this infection.

These organisms enter the joint in a number of ways including through or as a consequence of surgical incisions. Approximately 20,000 cases occur in the United States each year.

The three most significant signs of this are sudden, sharp pain (days following surgery or some other injury to the effected joint), joint swelling and a temperature spike in excess of 38.5º C (101º F).

This is a true medical emergency. Without (and sometimes even with) prompt diagnosis and treatment, the infection will damage articular cartilage and can lead to blood-borne infections that can result in serious injury and even death.

As soon as signs are present, the surgeon should perform arthrocentesis – a procedure in which fluid from the joint space is removed. The fluid should then be sent to the lab for culture. Because of the speed and severity of joint infections, it is often appropriate to put the patient on antibiotics even before the results of the fluid culture are known. If infection is present, it is often necessary to incise and drain the fluid collection and cut out any infected tissue.

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