Failure to Diagnose Osteomyelitis


If you have suffered long-term injury due to a doctor’s failure to provide a reasonable standard of care for osteomyelitis, then you could have grounds for a medical malpractice claim for a failure to diagnose osteomyelitis.  Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can be either acute or chronic.  Acute osteomyelitis is when a bone infection occurs as a one-time event after an injury or illness.  Chronic osteomyelitis is when a bone infection resurfaces multiple times.  If not treated or diagnosed quickly, the result can be deformity, amputation and permanent neurological dysfunction.

This condition is normally a bacterial infection caused by the Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria; however it can also occur as the result of Tuberculosis or a fungal infection.  The bone can become infected in one of two ways:

  1. After suffering an injury – if a person has sustained a fracture and the bone has been exposed, bacteria can reach the bone and an infection can result.  Surgery and insect bites can also lead to a bone infection.
  2. Through the blood – if there is an infection somewhere else in the body, then an infection can travel through the bloodstream and reach the bone.  This can occur with internal infections and skin infections.

Anyone can get osteomyelitis.  The bacterium only needs to reach the bone.  Therefore this condition that are more likely to affect people who have sustained an injury, particularly a fracture that has exposed the bone.  There are some factors that will increase the risk of a person developing osteomyelitis such as:

  1. Conditions that have weakened the immune system.
  2. Conditions that have adversely affected blood circulation.
  3. Intravenous drug users.
  4. Medications that cause immune deficiency.
  5. Sickle cell anemia.

The most common symptoms of osteomyelitis are fever and bone pain.  Other symptoms include swelling and redness at the infection site, restricted movement, and swollen lymph nodes.  Anyone with unexplained fever accompanied by bone pain should be considered for osteomyelitis.  Additionally, if a patient has a recent history of trauma, diabetes, or is immune compromised, then osteomyelitis should be suspected.  Blood tests can verify an infection and if the symptoms are consistent, then a diagnosis can be made.

Failure to make a diagnosis, resulting in a delay or failure to treat, then serious bone damage can result.  There is also the possibility of life-changing deformity or the need to amputate.  Should Osteomyelitis affect the spine and treatment is inadequate, long-term neurological deficit can result.  A failure to diagnose osteomyelitis is very serious medical malpractice.

Unfortunately, when Osteomyelitis is not treated to an acceptable standard then you may have a claim for New York medical malpractice.

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