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.