MDJunction - People Helping People
 
Ask a Question
04/30/2013 04:43 AM

Has anyone sued the doctor who did the surgery which caused RSD?

jpcrps
jpcrps  
Posts: 1661
Senior Member
I'm an Advocate

I have never seen this topic come up on this forum, and am curious. I happen to live on an island, and for me, the concept of suing one of the best podiatric surgeons on the island sends me into fear of becoming a medical pariah (outcast/reject) in such a small community of doctors. I don't want to jeopardize my ability to receive care if I am perceived as a sue-happy patient.

The other thought that comes to mind is whether or not the physician actually did anything WRONG to cause the outcome. The Johns Hopkins Power Point presentation on RSD which I found on the RSDSA site states that 24% of cases result from surgeries, and 16% from fractures. In my case, the surgery involved a fracture as part of the surgery to re-form the way my 2nd metatarsal joint (2nd toe is the longest toe in the body and is a frequent site of metatarsalgia - which is what they think I had).

Did my dotor botch the procedure? Was I "just a statistic"? Why wasn't the outcome of RSD discussed with me as one of the possible outomes of surgery?

When talking to my ob/gyn, who is a friend, she said "Oh yes, CRPS can happen just from having the arm extended and anesthesia given during an operation" (like a C-section or hysterectomy). So she was clearly aware of the risk of CRPS as an outcome of surgery.

What do you think? Have you attempted to make a case against the surgeon who did work on you which was the instigating factor in your crps? Has anyone ever heard of such a litigation - and was it successful?

Just wondering.

Aloha,

Jenny

PS:

I can't attach the file from Johns Hopkins which i found on the RSDSA website, but you can find it here:

http://www.rsds.org/pdfsall/Raja.pdf

The stats are on slide #9

Post edited by: jpcrps, at: 04/30/2013 04:47 AM

Reply

04/30/2013 06:08 AM
Tracey03
Tracey03  
Posts: 67
Member

Jenny,

My husband talked to a PA from a very famous orthopedic surgeon, who seemed to know a lot about RSD. He stated it would be hard to sue, because we were thinking about it, because anything could have caused the RSD. He stated people could get RSD just from spraining their ankle or doing some slight injury to the injury already performed. In other words, it's a very detailed injury that would need lots of medical back up. He said any one could get the disease, which is true, and with that, people would and could sue for every little thing. It's a very detailed and in depth case. With that, it could be extremely hard to prove what a doctor did or didn't do. Now this PA did believe that my ortho doctor that performed my surgery messed up big time, but pin pointing what went wrong and where could be extremely hard to do. And I could see his point of view and I agree with it. I tried to turn my ortho doc in to the medical board for negligence and lost that one. They said he did everything right after reviewing the notes. Funny thing is that everything that happened to me wasn't in the notes fully. Some things got left out or he put down in the loop hole to get around medically.

In the end it's really sad because I am stuck with this horrible disease for the rest of my life for things he failed to look at or do. I am stuck in horrific pain and my whole life, my husbands life, and my children's lives have been turned upside down. Plus, it's costing me a fortune to deal with sand my family is affected by that also. But, this doctor knew how to get away with a lot of things because I found out he was sued before for negligence. Now, some people may be lucky to have find that loophole that their doctor messed up and can sue, but I find something like this can be really hard to prove.

Hope this helped a little! And you are doing a great job!

Tracey


04/30/2013 07:08 AM
freddysmom
 
Posts: 198
Member

Jenny,

We tried to sue and had no case. We took it to two different lawyers and both told us we didn't have a case. The doc even cut through a few veins during surgery which he didn't close off and hubby had internal bleeding for one month before they found the problem. He then had to have a second surgery by a vascular surgeon to close the bleeding veins. All this and we didn't have a case!! The problem is that you are correct. Surgeries can cause this along with fractures. You had the same surgery my hubby did in that during the surgery they caused a fracture to "fix" the problem. It seems to be very difficult to have a true malpractice lawsuit. The thing that is even more angering is that people can sue for much less and win big....ex...Mc Donald's hot coffee incident= 1 million dollars!! Sad


04/30/2013 07:11 AM
freddysmom
 
Posts: 198
Member

Tracey,

Your case sounds familiar to ours also. The doc knew he screwed up so he carried our medical records around with him! I called one day to get a copy and the office said sure...then they called back and said they weren't in the office and that the doc had them...suspicious much??? He also had things changed around in the records that he covered up on! All I can say is...KARMA IS A BI#^%! He will get his someday!

Jen


04/30/2013 06:30 PM
reruho
 
Posts: 76
Member

I did not sue my orthopedic doctor but I did write him a scathing letter saying he lied to me and blamed him for my RSD. I also told him that I would never recommend him to anyone, in fact I said I would tell them to get away from him as fast as they could.

When I first started having symptoms of burning pain and swelling, I was told to take benadryl and elevate my wrist by the staff. I thought they were nuts about the benadryl.

On one ortho visit I complained about pain in my hand during OT. I asked for an x-ray. I go to a military hospital which has digitized most of the medical records. He looked at my x-rays and said there was nothing wrong with it. Later my OT read the Radiologist's report and told me I had compression fractures in my hand.

I obviously put some fear in this doctor because he called me back and he set aside an hour to talk to me. About the x-rays, he said he did not see any fractures and had not read the radiologist's report. And about the staff's comments, he said I could have talked to him. It is hard to do that when the staff never gave me that option. He spent a lot of time apologizing during that hour.

Reta

I am sure my records must have some type of flag on them. I have no problem writing a consumer comment about poor treatment. I think some of these doctors are surprised by this.


04/30/2013 10:16 PM
SloRian
SloRian  
Posts: 113
Member

Wow, Jenny, that's really a valid concern, living in such a small place. Frankly, I don't think I would risk it, but it's your call. If he has a good reputation, though, it probably wasn't his fault. Also, sometimes things just happen ...

Tracey03 and Freddysmom, I'm sorry to hear that your doctors messed up Sad Sad It's like school, I guess - there are good teachers, and then there are some bad ones, and we can't seem to get rid of the bad ones. But bad doctors have a much worse legacy ... Sad

My first OB was a real jerk. Thank God for my second OB, who was really skilled, and when my daughter was born, took the time to repair the botched job from the first OB. After the first OB was done with me, I couldn't sit down normally for years. After the second OB was done with me, I was able to sit down after a week Smile Hooray for good doctors!


05/01/2013 12:55 AM
maddiesgram
maddiesgram  
Posts: 2330
Senior Member



Post edited by: maddiesgram, at: 05/01/2013 01:29 AM

05/01/2013 01:25 AM
maddiesgram
maddiesgram  
Posts: 2330
Senior Member

Hi Jenny,

No, I didn't consider a lawsuit because really nobody knows what causes RSD/CRPS. Just like people get RSD from a sprain or a dig bite, many kinds of things have caused RSD to start up that have nothing to do with a doctor, good or bad. Also, there are horrible mistakes that sometimes happen in surgery but they do not cause RSD. And just the same there are perfect surgeries where everything is done perfectly and the patient does everything they need to do regarding recovery, yet that patient DOES get RSD, and nobody knows why. So, I don't see how you could prove that anything a surgeon does is what caused this because no one knows what causes it. I don't see how you could win.

That doesn't mean that you cannot hold a surgeon accountable for surgical errors, because if you can prove a surgical error, especially an egregious one, that might be the best thing to do even for others, to keep it from happening to them. But as far as accusing a surgeon of causing RSD, we don't know WHAT caused our RSD, even if we got it after a surgery. My surgeon apparently did everything right during my original toe surgery, which caused my RSD. It wasn't his fault that I got it. Every single physician who saw my post-surgical x-rays from one month to three years after my surgery, told me that it looked like he did a very good job, and one doctor even exclaimed "Beautiful!" when he looked at my x-rays. And, I followed the surgeons instructions after surgery to a "T"! My friend took care of me (and my dog) for two weeks so I could stay off my feet, per my doctor's instructions. Yet, the pain started after about 3 weeks and was the start of my RSD.

It does make me furious at this terrible, awful, life-changing kind of pain and suffering that has taken so much from me, and my family, and everyone I've met here that has lost so much due to this extreme and never-ending pain. But, the actual CAUSE of this in any of us is still unknown. Thus, I don't see how you can sue for RSD. That's just the bottom line and I'm pretty sure what anyone would hear in a court of law.

I hate for this horrible thing to happen to anyone. I remember some people in this group when they first came to the group scared, in pain, wanting to know how to get well FAST, and I never know what to say because I don't want anyone to lose hope and I don't want to tell them this will be the start of a lifetime of suffering. I do think there is hope for many people, maybe not me, but others, and I get so mad that another person has had to get this diagnosis and now has this pain. Someone who might have been a runner last year, or who is a new mom, or an athlete, or a small business owner who can no longer work and doesn't know how he'll support his family, all have contracted this disorder, or disease, or syndrome and it makes me angry at whatever you call what we have! And it seems that we all will go through the stages of grief, anger of course being one of them. But we don't want to allow our anger to be displaced. I think we must get through the anger (and blame) hopefully without causing further damage to our families, or friends or anyone else. Remember that I only am talking about getting RSD, not some error made by a surgeon, which could be very different.

This group has discussed this before but not recently that I know of and it might not have been titled clearly. I did go through a period of anger at my surgeon, but it was due to what he did and DIDN'T do after surgery. Three weeks post surgery the RSD pain began. I was doing well at two weeks post surgery and was told that my foot looked great with basically no swelling. I could walk again. I could go home to Texas for Christmas, as the surgery had been in Colorado. A few weeks later when I got back to Colorado things had deteriorated, and I had gone to two ER's while in Texas because of the terrible pain in my foot, with no answers but an RX each time for about 10-15 -hydrocodone pills. They didn't know WHAT was wrong, but I was having redness and swelling as the pain got worse and worse. The night I arrived in CO, I was up all night in pain, crying. My friend got up with me trying to find something, anything that might help me. The next day when I told the surgeon all of this, and it was now several weeks post surgery, he told me "You shouldn't be having that kind of pain." He was not being sympathetic or interested, he was basically telling me that he didn't believe me, although that part of my foot was red and swollen and I tried to tell him about the pain. Again, I tried to explain how truly bad the pain was and I thought he was ignoring me but he AGAIN said "Well it shouldn't be." Then he explained he would give me TEN Hydrocodone 5mg pills, but that that was IT! NO MORE PAIN PILLS WOULD BE GIVEN FOR ANY REASON!" So while this doctor focused ONLY on what he assumed was my drug seeking behavior, he ignored the REAL AND SERIOUS MEDICAL PROBLEM OF RSD! He did not diagnose me and it was within the first weeks when if he had diagnosed my RSD I could have focused on getting nerve blocks immediately and perhaps I would have gone into remission. THAT made me very mad and for a flash I think it went through my mind that my surgeon did not see what I had in time to help me, so maybe I should sue, maybe it would help wake him up so that if it happens to another patient he would diagnose them and help them. But, the stress would have been too much and I was barely making it, so I decided not to.

That's why I would never sue my surgeon even though I did get RSD after my first foot surgery in Dec. 2006. I think it was actually my body that turned on me, rather than a doctor's error.

gail

Post edited by: maddiesgram, at: 05/01/2013 04:44 AM

Post edited by: maddiesgram, at: 05/01/2013 06:03 AM


05/01/2013 04:50 AM
jpcrps
jpcrps  
Posts: 1661
Senior Member
I'm an Advocate

I am glad to see that this topic has some life. We all feel this anger, this pain, this wanting to know WHY, HOW, WHAT was the CAUSE! It is very depressing that there is no cure.

I am in the midst of a flare up because I "did too much" today. What did I do? Well, I sat at my dining table with my foot elevated on a chair and worked on the computer this morning, walked the dog for 3 blocks (using my new cane), then went to Kinkos to get postcards made for the info table at the upcoming convention. While they were printing the pictures my dear daughter had put on a thumb drive for me from Photoshop (she's good - I'll post copies of the postcard in another post), I walked 2 blocks to Longs Drug Store, and walked in there for about 30 minutes, checked out and sat in my car for a rest (all the while using my new cane to help me not bear weight on the foot). THAT WAS TOO MUCH ACTIVITY FOR ME. OMG I WAS A YOGA INSTRUCTOR AND MASSAGE THERAPIST AND SPENT THE ENTIRE DAY ON MY FEET DOING EXERCISE CLASSES AND TEACHING MEDITATION AND GIVING HOT ROCK MASSAGES AND LOVING MY LIFE (AND WRITING TOO). But now walking for an hour is too much for me. (with a cane too!)

Tonight after taking all my medications, it is burning, puffy, hurting, making me cry and keeping me awake a second night in a row.

I am interested in other people's view points about CRPS and litigation. I see ads from time to time from lawyers specifically targetted to RSD patients. My daughter had her foot run over by a car and had a crush injury, with a long period of edema like I had, and developed CRPS. She was off in beautiful upstate New York (an ugly town built up around the campus - it was a thriving area in the 20s and 30s, now not so). At that time, the vehicle she had been riding in ran over her foot when she was getting out of the car, and their insurance company was refusing to pay her medical bills!

I had to fight from long distance to get her medical care and it was horrible because she wanted to just forget about it and hope it would get better. By the time she came home for summer, it had been several months and she had just stopped using crutches. I flew out to help her pack her stuff up into storage (Freshman Year) and make the trip home. I was afraid she would need to use a wheel chair to transit through the O'Hare airport, but she is stoic and walked, with a lidocaine patch and elastic wrap on her foot.

I called and called the insurance company and finally found out that they were denying "orthopedic care" but might cover "neurologic or some other kind of care", but the adjuster couldn't make any promises to me. OMG it was horrible. I called all the neurologists on this island and not one would see her because it was an auto accident case from another state and they did not take auto claims. (Because they might have to appear in court to testify as to the extent of the injury).

I paid for nerve conduction studies for her (confirmed nerve damage) and paid for her MRI, and her PT, and then got an attorney to represent her in New York just to get the auto carrier *(she was a passenger in the car) to pay the 1st party PIP benefits. It was a nightmare! All the lawyer wanted was to move to Florida (we later found out) and he just wanted to make a buck off of us and settle the claim, when we specifically said at the outset we wanted help with the PIP claim denials and were willing to pay him hourly for his services! AND the insurance company kept sending her to inane IME doctors who poked and prodded her and which were scheduled during her classes. I will tell you that upstate New York is very cold, and not swanky like cool Manhatten or Midtown, and she was attending a nerdy sciences school. I think they required 4 electives in liberal arts over the entire 4 years of school.

So there she was struggling with RSD, depression, away from home, no medical care (i eventually got her in to a great doctor who is a highly regarded specialist in RSD/CRPS and she finally started to get care - but only because we got an attorney to help us find a decent doctor to take her case on). I thought I would die of a panic attack when I looked at the horrible symptoms my baby was going through. Little did I know she would go into remission and I would soon be the person facing intractable RSD pain and spreading symptoms.

Anyway, we did sue the driver of the car for her medical expenses and the attorney was a real waste of time and ill-informed about CRPS, so he undervalued her pain and suffering and ongoing expenses (at that time she was not yet in remission, and truthfully, her RSD could come back anytime, although I don't talk to her about this). So she got a crappy settlement and the attorney took his 30 % and split for Florida. (He told us when he took her case that he wanted to run for a Senate seat in the state - guess he changed his mind).

Whew! I am having a tough night. It is 1:40 am. I got ZERO sleep last night despite taking pain pills and sleeping pills and tonight looks similar. Endless pain. This feels like I am sitting with my friends talking. I need you people! Thanks for being here!

Love,

Jenny


05/01/2013 06:04 AM
Tracey03
Tracey03  
Posts: 67
Member

Jenny,

I went through a herendous fight with my OB, who caused my daughter a lifetime of problems. I know the doctors and legal systems really feel hopeless at times. I was only 27 and my daughter was born with what they call Brachial Plexus Injury to her right arm, 4 broken right ribs, and a broken left humerus. She was also dead for 10 minutes in utero. All because the doctor wanted to get home and go to bed. My daughter is 11 now and has had 5 surgeries so far and goes through physical therapy every week. She is permanently handicapped and will continue this for the rest of her life. Right now, she is experiencing extreme amounts of pain again and I am trying to get her dad to find a place by him to get a bone scan so it doesn't cost my husband and I over a $1,000 to get one. Her dads insurance is really only effective around where he lives, which is about 3 1/2 hours away from us. He's not doing a very good job. His money comes first and not his children.

So, I completely understand the whole story all the way around. All this stress has really affected my RSD, I'm in a whole lot of pain and my blood sugar is through the roof! One disease affects the other and so forth. I have put myself on hold somewhat. The first battle with my OB was long and tiring. I'm about to head up on another battle with SSI. They refused me because of the disease and because I'm too young.

Having all these problems, my type 1 diabetes, RSD, and my daughters BPI, I have to pick my battles and activities. I can't do as much anymore. I walk with a cane in public because my leg goes out on me often. I can't do long activies. I need to invest in a wheelchair. Too bad I have to pay for everything out of my own pocket. Without a job it's hard. I am very angry at everything and maybe at everyone. But, what comes around goes around. Karma does exist!

I hope everyone is doing well, surviving is a huge task. Hang in there, pick your battles, and keep on trucking! Only the strong survive! We are here for a reason.

Good luck to all and lots of love,

Tracey

Reply

Share this discussion with your friends:
<< Start < Prev 1 Next > End >>


Disclaimer: The information provided in MDJunction is not a replacement for medical diagnosis, treatment, or professional medical advice.
In case of EMERGENCY call 911 or 1.800.273.TALK (8255) to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Read more.
Contact Us | About Us
Copyright (c) 2006-2014 MDJunction.com All Rights Reserved