Orthopedic surgery or, orthopedics as it is commonly referred to, is the branch of surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical treatments for musculoskeletal trauma, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders.
Surgeon malpractice insurance is extremely important in the orthopedics field and there are many different factors these physicians need to take into account. Medical liability insurance companies have three different classifications for orthopedic surgeons.
Those classes are:
- Orthopedic Surgery with Spine
- Orthopedic Surgery No Spine
- Orthopedics No Surgery
Spine surgery is one of the highest, most expensive, classes for medical malpractice insurance as it carries high risk to the patient. Orthopedic surgeons who do not perform spine surgery carry a smaller risk as they do not perform surgery on the spine. They tend to focus on other areas of the body such as shoulders, hips and knees. There are many surgeons today who spend the last few years of their medical practice careers seeing patients, but focusing on areas of orthopedic surgery that do not need surgery such as lower back pain. These doctors can get coverage for the medical malpractice insurance at a much lower premium.
Before choosing an orthopedic surgeon, patients should always research their potential physicians. Orthopedic surgery is a very fragile field; there are common mistakes in this practice due to the degree of risk embedded in the specialty. Medical malpractice insurance cases are common within this practice, but many patients do not necessarily know the difference between actual medical malpractice, and dislike of the surgical outcome.
Common Occurrences of Orthopedic Medical Malpractice
The difficulties with orthopedic diagnoses can be found in the following areas:
- Attending physicians or family practice doctors often refer patients to an incorrect specialist to treat the injury or illness.
- It is common for orthopedic physicians to order inadequate or incorrect tests to diagnose the problem. When trying to diagnose patients, physicians often try to narrow down the list of potential problems by ordering various tests and radiology images to help determine the best medical treatment. Often patients want a quick fix and expect their doctor to have a quick solution.
- Doctors may also misread the results of diagnostic tests, resulting in incorrect or damaging treatment. Most orthopedic surgeons have radiology equipment in their outpatient offices. Digital X-Ray and MRI machines are common in the orthopedic medical practice today. Most of the time these images are read by radiologists and the result of the image and report are sent to the orthopedic surgeon. If the image was read incorrectly it is often the orthopedic surgeon who receives the initial blame. Misreads of radiology images are a common risk that results in doctors needing to utilize their medical malpractice insurance.
- Orthopedic doctors may fail to follow-up on procedures properly or address complications in a timely or correct manner. Failure to diagnose in a timely manner is one of the most common claims that medical malpractice insurance carriers defend.
Determining Medical Malpractice Negligence
In many cases, it is difficult to determine whether there is a valid medical malpractice insurance claim or simply a patient that does not properly respond to the treatment suggested. It is important to receive a second option from a qualified expert in the field before deciding that negligence was involved. Some of the requirements for filing a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Showing that there was a doctor-patient relationship between the physician and the patient.
- Providing the court with expert evidence that the orthopedic surgeon did not meet accepted standards of reasonable skill and care for that type of injury.
- The orthopedist’s negligence caused injury to the patient.
- That injury resulted in damage to the patient.
Surgeon malpractice insurance claims are becoming more common based on the fact that patients are uneducated on the actual definition of negligence instead of merely being dissatisfied with the results. Orthopedic surgery is a high-risk category, making it critical that physicians practicing in this specialty have a high quality medical liability insurance policy in place.