Compartment Syndrome

Failure to Diagnose and Treat Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome can be at the root of medical malpractice claims. The human body comprises many different compartments – each compartment containing groupings of nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. We have compartments in our arms, legs, abdomen, and other parts of our body. Compartment syndrome occurs when something generates more pressure than the compartment can handle. This usually occurs in the legs.

Call (503) 433-3524 if you or someone you love was harmed by compartment syndrome.

Compartment syndrome has two potential causes:

  • Serious injury
  • Medical procedure

Nearly half of all compartment syndrome cases that affect the legs can be attributed to tibia fractures, but other causes include anything from a limb being crushed to IV usage. In some cases, patients develop compartment syndrome after surgery. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, serious injury and even death can ensue.

What Can Happen if Compartment Syndrome Is Left Untreated

If compartment syndrome is not diagnosed accurately and promptly, the patient can sustain serious and even permanent injuries. In the worst-case scenarios, compartment syndrome can lead to total muscle and nerve death in the affected area, necessitating amputation or even causing death.

Some of the other outcomes following untreated compartment syndrome include –

  • Kidney damage or failure
  • "Rhabdomyolysis" which is the harmful of release of myoglobin into the bloodstream
  • Sepsis / SIRS
  • Foot drop, a condition characterized by difficulty lifting the toes or front of the foot
  • Chronic pain in the affected area
  • Loss of feeling in the affected area

Is compartment syndrome difficult to diagnose?

Compartment syndrome can be difficult to diagnose due to similarity between its side effects and side effects of other conditions. Generally, doctors should consider running diagnostic tests for compartment syndrome if the patient experiences pain in the affected area for longer than normal or to a degree that is greater than expected. If this occurs, doctors can use catheters, needles, or diagnostic imaging to assess pressure levels in the compartment.

Compartment Syndrome and Fasciotomy

If a doctor suspects compartment syndrome, runs diagnostic testing, and finds out that this is the issue, they may recommend a fasciotomy, which is a type of limb-saving surgical procedure. In a fasciotomy, a doctor cuts into the affected compartment in order to relieve the pressure that is causing the excessive pain and nerve damage. Fasciotomies are usually performed in the event of acute CS.

Acute versus Chronic Compartment Syndrome

Medical malpractice compartment syndrome claims are typically acute cases, as acute CS poses the most severe risk to patients. Chronic compartment syndrome is most common in athletes or those who overuse a particular muscle or limb. Chronic compartment syndrome is easier to catch and treat, because it develops over longer periods, while acute compartment syndrome can happen suddenly.

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

If you or someone you love developed compartment syndrome that either was not treated or not treated promptly due to failed diagnosis, you may have a medical malpractice claim. Paulson Coletti is a team of trial lawyers experienced and recognized for success in these types of cases.

Attorney Chuck Paulson was named "Lawyer of the Year" in the practice area of medical malpractice law for plaintiffs, and Paulson Coletti as a firm was voted to the list of "Best Law Firm" by US News in this practice area as well. We advocate for victims of medical malpractice to secure the financial compensation they deserve.

Wondering if you have a claim? Contact Paulson Coletti to find out. Call our Portland medical malpractice lawyers at (503) 433-3524 or fill out a free case review form.