Total joint replacement the main cause of litigation in one metropolitan area: 5 things to know

In at least one metropolitan area, the main cause of medical litigation is infections from total joint replacements, according to an article in the Journal of Arthroplasty.


Study authors conducted a retrospective review of lawsuits filed from 2009 to 2015 in a five-county area with 30 hospitals and 113 surgeons who perform total joint replacements. Study authors found:

1. Among the 113 TJR surgeons in the area, 27.4 percent had been named a defendant in a lawsuit, and 83 lawsuits were filed during the six-year investigation period.

2. Half of the lawsuits were either settled or dismissed.

3. The most common reasons for the lawsuits, ranked in descending order from the most common, were:

• Infection
• Nerve injury
• Chronic pain
• Vascular injury
• Periprosthetic fracture
• Foreign body retention
• Dislocation
• Limb-length discrepancy
• Venous thromboembolism
• Loosening
• Compartment syndrome

4. Study authors recommended surgeons work toward better communication with patients about infections during preoperative discussions and education, as well as disclosures after adverse events.

5. To avoid lawsuits, the study authors also recommended surgeons "minimize performing surgery in patients at high risk of complications, such as patients with higher likelihood of developing postoperative infection or patients on chronic pain medications."

More articles on infections:
Majority of orthopedic device educational material too complex for patients to understand
5 key findings on surgical site infections
TJR patients using fewer opioids to manage pain—4 study insights

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