Sue for Failure to Diagnose Periprosthetic Joint Infection (PJI)

Attorney Fred Pritzker recently won $950,000 for a client in a case involving failure to diagnose Staphylococcus aureus after knee surgery.

A periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) occurs during or following joint replacement surgery. The infection can cause the joint to be painful or cause the implant to loosen. In some cases the patient needs revision surgery. These infections are also known as “septic failure,” one of the leading causes of total knee replacement and total hip replacement revision surgeries in the United States.

Most cases involve Staphylococcus aureus (including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)) and Staphylococcus epidermidis, commonly called staph infections. These infections can affect more than your joint. If Staphylococci bacteria get into your bloodstream, you may develop sepsis (blood poisoning), which can lead to septic shock — a life-threatening episode of extremely low blood pressure.

Failure to diagnose may give rise to a medical malpractice claim. If the patient dies from the infection, the family may have a wrongful death claim.

Periprosthetic Joint Staph Infections

Staph is short for Staphylococcus, a type of bacteria. The knee and hip joints are the most common locations for this infection.

Symptoms of a “staph infection” in a joint may include:

  • warmth around the joint
  • redness, swelling, extreme tenderness at the joint
  • drainage of pus (yellowish-white substance) or other fluids
  • fever.

Without treatment, a periprosthetic joint staph infection can lead to infectious arthritis (septic arthritis), organ failure or death.

MRSA Infection

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes a staph infection that is resistant to certain antibiotics. The risk of serious illness, amputation and death is greater with an MRSA infection than with other Staphylococcus aureus infections.