Was Your Client Informed Of Their Risks Of Heterotopic Ossification After Hip Replacement?

Most surgical procedures have risks of complications. For total hip arthroplasty, a common complication is heterotopic ossification. In fact, an average of 30% of patients who have total hip arthroplasty develop heterotopic ossification to some degree, with some cohorts experiencing a frequency of the condition as high as 90%. So, what does this mean in terms of medical malpractice or insurance claims for patients who are debilitated by heterotopic ossification after total hip arthroplasty?

It depends on several factors. Here's what you need to know if you have a client who has developed heterotopic ossification following total hip arthroplasty. 

What does the medicalese mean?

Total hip arthroplasty is medicalese for total hip replacement surgery. Heterotopic ossification is a condition in which bone forms where muscle and soft tissue should be. It can cause an increase in swelling and pain and a decrease in mobility. The medical community hasn't determined why it occurs. 

Does the patient have a confirmed diagnosis of heterotopic ossification?

If you are considering filing a lawsuit or an insurance claim on behalf of your client, you'll want to be certain that they do have a diagnosis of heterotopic ossification. To confirm their diagnosis, hire an independent orthopedic evaluator to conduct a thorough exam including medical and surgical history, imaging, and a clinical examination. Independent orthopedic evaluations will need to be done by an unbiased third party for legal purposes. 

Was the patient informed of the risks? 

Since heterotopic ossification is a known risk of hip replacement surgery, the first thing that you as a lawyer or insurance adjuster needs to determine is whether or not your client was informed of the risks. Was the patient's right to informed consent followed appropriately when he or she was going through the pre-surgical processes? To determine this, you'll need to ask your client if they read the pre-surgical documentation they signed and have an independent orthopedic evaluator study the documentation to see if the risks were covered in a manner that informed your client of the known risks. 

What is the patient's prognosis moving forward?

The independent orthopedic evaluation will include a prognosis and treatment plan that should be followed by the patient. This prognosis and treatment plan can be a determining factor in the compensation amount that you may be seeking via a lawsuit or insurance claim on behalf of your client. The prognosis and treatment plan may also be used by the patient as a second opinion when trying to locate a new orthopedic specialist.