Hip replacement infections can require painful, complicated surgery to remove, clean, and replace the implant—and they can have lifelong effects. They’re also expensive. If you or someone you love suffered from a hip replacement infection, you could have grounds for a lawsuit.
John Foy & Associates has been helping patients recover money for over 20 years. Let our personal injury lawyers help you determine if you have a potential hip infection claim, and get you the money you deserve. Contact us for a FREE consultation at 404-400-4000 today.
Why do hip replacements become infected?
Hip replacements can become infected when bacteria get into the surgical wound, the implant itself, or the tissue around it. Infection can set in during the surgery and the recovery time afterward, but it can also happen much later. In some cases, an infection can develop without warning even years after the hip replacement was first implanted.
Infection is far from the most common complication with hip replacements. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, only about 1 percent of hip replacement patients end up suffering from an infection. Unfortunately, these numbers are not necessarily reassuring; it still means that 1 in 100 patients end up with an infection. And some patients are at higher risk than others, including those who are obese, those with diabetes, and those with any immune deficiency (such as HIV, or related to immunosuppressive medical treatments like chemotherapy). And any patient who has further surgical procedures—whether related to the hip joint or not—also faces a higher risk.
As a result, some patients face odds much higher than 1 percent.
How can a hip replacement become infected after the surgical wound has healed?
There are many ways for bacteria to enter the body, and an open wound is just one of them. Normally, the body’s immune system works to fight off any bacteria that get in. But hip replacements are made from metal or plastic, and the body has a hard time dealing with bacteria once it settles into these materials.
Bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and arrive at the vulnerable hip replacement site, and the tissue around it. This is why a hip replacement infection can develop even if you recovered from surgery infection-free.
What are the most common outcomes of a hip replacement infection?
It depends on when the infection occurs. If it happens within a few weeks of the hip replacement surgery, doctors will actually re-open the wound. This allows it to be cleaned and treated directly with antibiotics.
If it happens later, the wound isn’t normally reopened because it has already healed over. Doctors may try treating it with oral antibiotics, which can work well if they caught the infection early and it hasn’t gotten deep into the tissue yet.
If the infection is more advanced, it will usually require actually removing and replacing the implant. This is one of the most dreaded outcomes of hip replacements. It involves a multi-stage surgery where the entire hip replacement is de-installed, all the surrounding infected tissue is cleaned (or cut away, if needed), new “spacers” or antibiotic shields are put in, and the replacement is re-installed in the body. This is a painful, difficult form of surgery that can lead to a permanent loss of mobility.
Other, more extreme outcomes are rare but they can happen. In some cases, the infection has already spread and the entire leg and hip joint must be amputated. And it is possible for patients to die of an infection.
What are the symptoms of a hip replacement infection?
Many patients don’t realize they have an infection until it becomes serious, especially if it’s been months or years since their operation. That’s why doctors need to pay close attention to potential symptoms of infection anytime you come in for an exam. The most common symptoms include:
- Pain, especially an increase in pain or stiffness in a hip that used to work well.
- Chills and sweats
- Swelling, redness, or warmth around the surgery wound
- Any kind of drainage from the wound
If you suffered from a hip replacement that became infected, do you have a valid claim for a lawsuit?
It depends on how the infection occurred. In general, a properly implanted hip replacement should not become infected unless there is a defect with the device, poor oversight by your care providers, or a lack of caution during other procedures such as dental surgery. Doctors should be vigilant for signs of infection both after your initial implant procedure, and any time you come in for other procedures or complaints.
In other words: infections are often preventable or could have at least been stopped before they became serious. As a result, we have seen a number of cases where the infection may have been caused by:
- A defective hip replacement
- Malpractice by the surgical team
- Lack of oversight during recovery
- Lack of adequate precautions by doctors/surgeons involved in later procedures
Any of these factors is considered “negligence.” And if someone’s negligence caused, or contributed to your infection, you have a case.
Types of damages you could recover
You may be able to recover damages for:
- All of your medical costs
- Lost work time
- The pain and suffering you endured
- The impact of any severe losses, such as limited mobility or lifelong medical effects
Many hip replacement infection cases can bring settlements of $1 million or more. We don’t believe this money can ever undo the pain and complications you’ve been through. It can, however, help you and your family rebuild your lives and stay financially stable in the future.
The best way to know if you have a case is to talk to a lawyer. It’s free, and you can get the answers you need based on your specific situation.
Do you need to hire an attorney for your case?
A claim like this can become complicated quickly. It’s best to hire an attorney to look over your case and make sure you’re filing for all the damages to which you’re entitled. Your attorney will know if a settlement offer is too small, as well as when negotiations aren’t going to work and you’re better off taking your case to court.
Your attorney will act as your advocate in trying to get you the best possible outcome to help you seek justice and compensation for your injuries.
Talk to a hip replacement infection lawyer for free
John Foy & Associates has over 20 years of experience helping people with defective medical device claims and medical malpractice cases. We charge you nothing unless we recover money for you. Call 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.