South Florida, where the weather is almost always right for a walk, swim, or bike ride has always been an attractive destination for active seniors. If it seems like the seniors in South Florida have become even more active in recent years, it may be because of advances in mobility-preserving treatments like knee replacement surgeries. In the first decade of the 21st century, the number of knee replacement surgeries in the United States nearly doubled, leading to fewer elderly Floridians walking with canes and more grandparents eagerly returning to the golf course and the dance floor. Knee replacement surgery, like any surgery, carries risks, and doctors have a responsibility to warn patients of those risks and to use reasonable caution to prevent adverse events during surgery and postsurgical complications. Patients whose doctors do not handle their knee replacement cases properly have recourse to medical malpractice lawsuits.
The Knee Surgeon Who Failed to Account for a Patient’s Risk Factors
Matthew Standley had played sports his whole life, and by the time he moved to South Florida, he had experienced his share of problems with his left knee. When he lived in Atlanta, he had several minor surgeries on his knee, and he usually recovered from them quickly and without complications. After one of the surgeries, though, he developed osteomyelitis, a bone infection. He was prescribed vancomycin, and it cleared up the infection completely, allowing him to make a full recovery.
Years later, Matthew sought treatment Dr. Melvin Rech, an osteopathic orthopedic surgeon in Pinecrest, because his knee pain had returned. Dr. Rech counseled Matthew to have a total knee replacement. Matthew’s lawyers would later argue that this was a mistake; Matthew did not need a total knee replacement, as other treatments were more appropriate for his problem. Furthermore, the guidelines recommend against total knee replacement for a patient who has previously had a bone infection after surgery. Dr. Rech made an additional mistake by not giving Matthew antibiotics before surgery to prevent infection; all patients, even those without heightened risk of infection, should take prophylactic antibiotics before knee replacement surgery.
Matthew developed a bone infection after the surgery, and sought treatment from Dr. Rech for it. The antibiotics Dr. Rech prescribed were not nearly strong enough to eradicate the infection, and it got worse. Matthew then went to the emergency room, and in the subsequent weeks, he received strong antibiotics and surgeries at several hospitals in an attempt to cure the infection, but it had progressed so far that he had his left leg amputated, as it was the only way to save his life. Matthew and his wife Corinne sued Dr. Rech, and a court awarded them $11 million.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have suffered major complications from an unnecessary surgery, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact Palm Beach County medical malpractice attorneys at Smith, Ball & Báez Injury Lawyers for a consultation.