Settlement in Case involving Death Due to Failed Hip Replacement Surgery

Written By Thomas Hall

Atlee Hall recently resolved a case involving the death of a 68-year-old male patient, who died within 36 hours of undergoing elective hip replacement surgery – a surgery that went terribly wrong.

The defendant surgeon recommended a hip replacement because of the patient’s arthritis. With the goal of regaining more mobility and eliminating nagging hip pain, the patient looked forward to a more active lifestyle following the procedure.

But during the surgery, the patient experienced an unexplained excessive loss of blood. He was then transferred from the surgical center to a regional hospital. At the hospital, a radiologic study showed that the cup portion of the hip prosthetic was impinging on the iliac vein, which is the main vein that brings blood from the leg back to the patient’s heart and lungs. As a result, the patient suffered compartment syndrome of his affected leg, requiring surgery to relieve the pressure that was building around the muscles of his leg.

Ultimately, the patient became acidotic, meaning his body fluids become too acidic and  his body was unable to restore the necessary pH balance. An amputation of his leg at the hip joint was performed in an effort to reverse the acidosis. The amputation proved unsuccessful, and it was left to the family to decide whether to withdraw life-support. Given the hopelessness of his situation, his family agreed to remove life support, and the patient passed within minutes.

The patient is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, and his daughter.

Hip replacement surgeries are common and occur upwards of 300,000 times a year in the U.S. and have an average of a 4 day recovery period. Although the procedure is performed without serious incident in the vast majority of cases, this case demonstrates again that the surgeon must remain diligent, even during the most straightforward of surgical procedures.

Atlee Hall is committed to holding negligent parties accountable with the aim of preventing similar tragedies from occurring. In common surgeries like this case, patients should feel confident and safe that they will receive the expected standard of care.