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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Question When Does A Doctor's Mistake Become Malpractice

    I know i jsut posted another thread but now I have another thread I wanted to start. How do you tell the difference between a doctors mistake or his malpractice. Here is my story!

    Five years ago I was in a bad accident that caused many breaks and brusies. The short story for this thread is that my right arm was broken in many pieces. The first doctor put in plates and screws to stabilize my arm. Three years after the initial break I started having a lot of pain in the arm where it had previously been broken and in my wrist. After about six months of the pain I finally went to my Primary care doctor who referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who told me that most likely the plates and screws were causing the pain and that I probably had some ligament damage from the accident that is just now coming forward. The doctor had x-rays and an MRI and felt that my arm was stable enough to have the hardware taken out and he wanted to go into my wrist orthoscopically to repare the damage done there. I of course agreed to the surgery and had it done in an outpatient form. I had surgery in the early morning and was going home by around 2 or 3pm.

    When you have just had surgery and have been under anesthesia usually you go home and go to sleep, which is exactly what I did. I probably slept for about 2 or 3 hours, I honestly don't remember the times, what i remember is waking up and my bandage on my arm was soaked with blood, and it had soaked through the pillow that I had my arm propped up on, and my hand was swollen like a HUGE marshmellow. I called for my Mom, who was there to help me out, and showed her what was going on. We called the on call doctor, which ended up being a nurse that called me back. I explained about the severe swelling and and bleeding. She said that it was normal after surgery. I asked her if I could change the dressing and she agreed since my medical experience (EMT & Paramedic with 8 years experience in an Emergency Room) had given me the ability to change a steril dressing. I had supplies at the house to change the dressing. the on call nurse said there was no call for alarm that it was just normal and to change the dressing and take something for the swelling.

    When I went to change the dressing and took the dressing off of one of the incisions my incisions was wide open and a huge blood clot was outside of the incision. I IMMEDIATELY covered up my arm, re-wrapped it and called the nurse back. I told her i needed to go the Emergency Room and what was going on. She said go ahead and go. When I got to the Emergency Room I of course had to wait to be triaged and when I was finally triaged, they took me back immediately, put in an IV, drew blood, and hooked me up to a pain pump. I was taken to surgery a few hours later.

    When the doctor went back into my arm there was an arterial bleed. The doctors stopped the bleeding and sewed my arm back up. I had to stay another three days in the hospital, and this caused me to have to stay completely out of work for another 3 months and on light duty for an aditional four months. Originally I was expected to be out of work maybe a week or two.

    It is now one year after the incident and I have what I would say about 90% of my arm usage back. I loose sensation and feeling in my arm sometimes. Is this incident just a simple mistake or an incident of malpractice? Where should I go from here to hold that doctor accountable?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Default Re: When Does A Doctor's Mistake Become Malpractice

    It sounds like a complication of the surgery but not malpractice.

    The complication was arterial bleeding. You discovered it yourself when you decided to change the surgeon's original postop dressing and not go to the ER.

    It does sound like you are doing better with a 90% improvement in function. Are you still getting PT/OT?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Default Re: When Does A Doctor's Mistake Become Malpractice

    No I am not doing either... they released me as they did not have anything else they could really do for me. The numbness in my fingers and hands is getting worse and I just hit a year since the surgery. Now what?

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