In our Economic Recovery after TBI: How Victims and Families Get Back on Their Feet After Serious Injury article, we provided an in-depth look at economic recovery and how it's something victims and their families are often unaware they’re entitled to before retaining legal counsel to represent them after an accident. After a serious accident that results in permanent injury or wrongful death, the victim and their loved ones suffer steep financial losses that can result in mental anguish. When a victim or their loved ones can't pay the bills, the medical expenses, or provide for minor children, it creates an unhealthy living situation that can result in emotional turmoil for everyone involved.
When the surviving family members of a deceased victim are left to pick up the pieces after the loss of a loved one, or care for a loved one when they can no longer care for themselves, they should never have to suffer the insult of financial loss to do it. If an accident or a wrongful death occurred due to no fault of the family, they must quickly retain board certified legal counsel to represent their best interests. An expert attorney can help the family on the road to recovery both financially and emotionally, restoring the quality of life the victim or their surviving family members rightfully deserve.
In Does Loss of Limb Have to Mean Loss of Quality of Life? we'll provide in-depth Personal Injury insight on what happens after a victim suffers an amputation, either as the result of a work-related accident or a surgical error that left them bodily injured. This insight is firsthand information from a board certified civil trial attorney who has tried and won numerous amputation-related lawsuits and recovered millions of dollars in damages on behalf of his clients. On the Shaked Law Blog we've become known for providing the facts the insurance companies don't want victims to know. We offer truthful information that can help potential clients and simply those who have been injured as the result of someone else's careless actions get the insight they need to better pursue their right to justice.
Surgical errors are costly financially, but also emotionally
In the event of a surgical error that causes the patient to become the victim of an amputation, the surgeon could be liable for malpractice, medical negligence, or recklessness. There are several puzzle pieces that must fit together to provide a clear picture of whether or not the surgeon was at-fault, as well as whether the surgeon acted in a manner that can be considered "reasonable". Foreseeability is a large part of medical negligence and the medical malpractice claims that can ensue as a result. Could the physician have reasonably "foresaw" the outcome of their actions and what would occur as a result? Many times, a medical malpractice lawsuit comes down to "foreseeability", and whether or not the doctor acted in a manner that could have prevented what occurred.
Foreseeability saves healthcare professionals a fortune in legal costs
There are several ways that surgeons can use the principle of "foreseeability" in the case of a surgical error resulting in amputation:
- Marking the limb intended for surgery clearly so as not to operate on the wrong limb in error
- Reviewing the medical records and chart notes prior to entering the operating room, insuring they're operating on the correct patient.
- HIPAA law requires a patient to state their full name and date of birth to the medical provider and for the medical provider to cross check that information on the patient's EMR (electronic medical record). This requirement is in place for surgical procedures, dispensing of medication, and providing any medical records to parties with access to those records.
- Ensuring that OSHA protocol is followed to the letter in the operating room and throughout the hospital. Failing to follow OSHA's hospital protocol's for infection control could result in patient's contracting deadly infections post-op that can lead to side effects that range from prolonged hospital stays to fatalities in immunocompromised individuals such as the very young or the elderly.
Surgeons who make every effort to follow protocol and maintain their level of professionalism are said to be acting in a reasonable manner. However, surgeons who neglect to abide by OSHA's strict standards, or rely on memory and assume they know everything about the patient offhand can be held liable in the event that a surgical error is made and the patient must undergo an amputation.
Furthermore, should the surgeon neglect to mark the limb that requires surgery and operates on an uninjured limb, they will be held liable in a court of law and could face serious repercussions such as loss of medical licensure and judgements against them for damages incurred by the victim as a result of their direct actions.
As we've explained on the Shaked Law Blog in previous articles, there are specific criteria that must be met in order to establish medical malpractice within the scope of a lawsuit. That criteria is standard, and must be met to the letter in order to proceed with actions that will provide the victim with any kind of damages:
- A doctor-patient relationship must have existed
- A negligent doctor
- The physician’s carelessness harmed the patient in a way that “more than likely” caused them not to receive proper care in a timely manner that could’ve been life sustaining
The emotional impact of amputations is enormous
Upon learning that they may lose, or have already lost a limb, patients cannot be expected to be "fine" emotionally. Physically, the loss of a limb has its obvious consequences. However, those who have not experienced such a trauma cannot begin to understand the emotional impact loss of limb has on a victim. The enormous emotional anguish and PTSD that results from an amputation cannot be measured in dollar amounts.
After an amputation, victims must cope with a "new normal". They must learn to live life differently than they once did, and may feel extreme levels of anxiety and depression. They may be forced to give up hobbies or a career they loved due to an accident or surgical error over which they had no control. For some, being cared for by others when they were once active and independent in their lives is difficult to accept. Victims also may find themselves wheelchair bound for extended amount of time, or even permanently, if medical interventions such as Physical and Occupational therapy fail to restore their ability to walk using prothesis.
Life can change in an instant
When something as drastic as an amputation happens, a victim may feel that their life has changed for the worst and can experience any number of setbacks. These setbacks are not linear, and can occur at any time during recovery. Victim's may feel at peace at one moment, but suffer horrific flashbacks to the accident or the operating room the next. This is the nature of what's known as "medical PTSD".
Like PTSD, Medical PTSD is defined as: "Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it."
For a victim of an amputation that they were not prepared for, the emotional trauma is immeasurable. Victims of surgical errors or accidents that resulted in loss of a limb may have flashbacks to the OR or the scene of the accident. These flashbacks and the resulting PTSD may keep them from engaging with loved ones or pursuing new hobbies. A Personal Injury attorney will ensure that all of this factors into the damages a victim will be entitled to. This economic recovery period will ensure that at least, the victim can provide for their loved ones financially during a time of deep emotional and physical turmoil.
Can quality of life be restored?
It's difficult to say if full quality of life can be restored after an amputation, however, a Personal Injury attorney has dedicated their entire career to pursuing the justice the client deserves as a result of suffering such trauma. While amputation doesn't mean the victim's life is over, the road to recover is long and winding, and has many unforeseen ups and downs. The victim will require physical and occupational therapies, and prothesis if they choose. They may require future surgeries which can take an emotional and mental toll, causing further PTSD.
All victims of amputation must adjust to a new normal they never thought possible. This is why a board certified civil trial attorney in their corner is a priceless asset. The attorney will never let the client be bullied by the insurance company after suffering an amputation for which they were not at-fault. An experienced and compassionate attorney will stop at nothing to do what's right for the client.