10 Questions You MUST Ask Before Your Joint Replacement Surgery

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RJH 2015Every day, the lawyers at Messa & Associates evaluate potential cases involving knee and hip replacement surgery. According to research published in The Journal Bone & Joint Surgery, the number of total knee replacements performed annually has doubled over the last decade, with the largest increase among young adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 719,000 total knee replacement surgeries and 332,000 total hip replacement surgeries are performed every year in the United States. While joint replacement surgery can be effective for the treatment of end-stage osteoarthritis (age-related “wear and tear”) and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as post-traumatic arthritis following a fracture of the bones surrounding the hip or knee, patients who have hip replacement surgery can experience long-term and persistent pain as well as other severe complications requiring additional surgeries.

There are Pros and Cons to Joint Replacement Surgery

As joint replacement surgery has become more available, surgical techniques have evolved and the medical device industry as produced a wider variety of joint replacement hardware systems. Consequently, the number of surgeons performing knee and hip replacement surgery has increased, resulting in wide variances in the level of training and experience among surgeons who perform knee and hip replacements. Certain types of knee and joint replacement hardware systems have proven to be defective in design or subject to manufacturing problems which have caused the artificial knee or hip to break down, deteriorate, dislocate, and in some cases increase the risk for post-operative infection. Thus, there should be no surprise at the growing number of poor results among patients undergoing both hip and knee replacement surgery.

Of course, having joint replacement surgery is not a guarantee of a pain-free, fully moveable joint, and not every less than optimum surgical result is the result of some problem with the replacement hardware or failure of the surgeon to use proper technique. These procedures also carry with them a risk of potential complications which may or may not be related to a defective product or a problem with the surgical technique, including: infections which may occur even years after the surgery; blood clots; leg length inequality; dislocation and loosening of the implant; nerve damage; fracture; stiffness of the joint; and continued and persistent pain. If you have had a poor result from hip or knee replacement surgery, or if you have suffered one or more of the complications of that surgery, Messa & Associates can help you to investigate the cause of your problems and provide you with advice as to whether or not you have a claim to pursue, whether because the implant hardware was defective, the medical care failed to meet the standard, or a combination of both.

10 Questions for Your Surgeon BEFORE You Sign Consent

If joint replacement surgery has been recommended to you, you can help yourself and decrease your chances of complications or a poor result by being an informed consumer. When you buy a car, a major purchase for which you spend a lot of money, you want to make sure that vehicle is the right one to fit your needs and you with safe and efficient transportation for you and your family. You certainly would not want to buy the first car you see on the lot, but would want to question the salesperson to assist you in making the best decision to fit your needs. Joint replacement surgery is no different, and you can and should ask your doctor not only to explain the surgery but to provide you with as much information as possible so that you can make sure that the doctor performing the surgery as well as the joint implant used are both right for you.

Before signing any consent to having the surgery, ask the surgeon at least the following questions, and get the complete answers that you deserve.

  1. Why is this joint replacement necessary – what alternatives are there to surgery and why are those alternatives not being recommended?
  2. What type of implant will be used, including the name of the manufacturer and the type of implant system? (NOTE: Have the surgeon explain why this type of implant system is better for you than some alternatives. Keep in mind that some surgeons have arrangements with certain implant manufacturers through which the surgeon is paid to provide training or promotion for the manufacturers’ implants. You will want to make sure that the surgeon is not using a particular manufacturer simply because of the surgeon’s financial arrangements with that manufacturer.)
  3. Will you [your orthopedic surgeon] be doing the procedure in its entirety, or will any portions of the surgery be done by other doctors? Find out whether those other doctors are residents or fellows, which would indicate that these doctors are still learning and do not have a lot of experience with your procedure.
  4. What is your success rate with this particular surgery? Find out how many total similar procedures your doctor has done previously, how many he or she does in an average month or year, and what percentage results in revision surgery or the need to “re-do” the implant within five years of the original surgery.
  5. What is the expected recovery time? Will I need to undergo physical therapy after the procedure?
  6. Are you aware of any manufacturing recalls on the type of implant system that you intend to use?
  7. Will I need protection against the formation of blood clots as a result of this surgery? If yes, what are those treatments and how long will that treatment need to be administered?
  8. What is your infection rate for joint replacement procedures? Does the hospital or surgi-center keeps statistics and/or conduct studies of post-operative infection rates?;
  9. Would you recommend that I seek out a second opinion before going forward with this surgery?
  10. What should I expect after the surgery in terms of: (a) pain, (b) limitations of motion or movement, (c) stiffness, (d) time you will be off your feet or need to use a walker or cane?

New Jersey and Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorneys

The information obtained from the surgeon will be helpful to you in understanding your procedure and in dealing with problems which may arise. Even if you do not understand everything that your surgeon tells you, the surgeon’s willingness to openly provide information to you and to answer your questions may tell you a lot about your doctor’s ability and expertise. An added benefit is that by asking these questions, you will force your surgeon to think about your specific situation and needs and may lead to adjustments which will provide a safer and more successful experience.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Messa & Associates are experienced in handling complex medical malpractice cases, including but not limited to MRSA infections, surgical site infections, foreign objects, missed diagnoses, surgical errors, and treatment errors/negligence. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to medical negligence at a hospital, nursing home, or rehab facility, act quickly. Call a medical malpractice attorney from Messa & Associates today, before your rights to legal compensation have expired. Call 877-MessaLaw for a free consultation or submit an inquiry online for a free case evaluation.


Call the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers of Messa & Associates today to discuss your case with a professional who has the knowledge to answer your questions or submit a free online inquiry.

Call, toll-free, 1-877-MessaLaw (637-7252), or submit a free online inquiry form.

About the Author:

Director of Marketing for Messa & Associates located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For all marketing or press release communications, contact sking@messalaw.com.

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