1. Health

How to Tackle a Bone Graft Case in Court

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Medical procedures are often subject to litigation with accusations of negligence and malpractice. Given the fragility of the human body, medical practitioners have to fulfil their duty as ethically and correctly as possible. Bone grafts are so delicate that they may find themselves in the corridors of justice if something goes wrong.

What is a bone graft?

A bone graft is a surgical procedure which involves replacing or transplanting a shattered or fractured bone. It is also used to regrow or improve a diseased or defective bone.

This notwithstanding, grafts are not always necessary as bones have regenerative qualities. Therefore, the procedure will be useful where injury left to heal naturally fails. It will also be useful where self-healing forms abnormal positioning that needs correction.

Types of bone grafts

  1. Autograft

Autograft bone graft is where the transplanted bone is from a non-essential bone in the body. It requires double-invasion as a bone is cut out from one part to be put in another.

The extracted bone is in limited quantities, so it does not negatively affect the source part and cause pain or discomfort. Sources of bone include the ribs, hips, pelvis, or wrist. The most common source is the iliac crest, which is the largest of the three pelvic bones.

  1. Allograft

An allograft uses bone tissue from another donor or a cadaver to complete the graft. It is safer as it does not include removing bone from the patient's body. The surgery time is, therefore, shorter, and the wounds heal faster as they are fewer.

Moreover, it reduces infection risk as the bone undergoes meticulous cleaning and processing before storage in the tissue bank. The allograft method does not contain living cells, and the risk of rejection due to incompatibility is lower.

This method is seemingly safer as it does not require another surgery to remove bone tissue from the patient's body. Therefore, wounds from the surgery will heal faster, and the time used to carry out the surgery will be reduced.

  1. Synthetic Bone Graft

Synthetic bone graft uses artificial material instead of extracted bone from the patient or a cadaver. Therefore, lower infection risk is a great advantage over autograft or allograft bone graft methods as the materials are synthetic. Additionally, these substitutes are produced beforehand and often available in sufficient quantities.

Bone graft court cases

Bone graft litigation battles take different forms depending on the purpose of the graft and the material. For example, in the case of Gormley v. Stover, the plaintiff alleged that the doctor was negligent by recommending a skin graft rather than a bone graft. On the other hand, in the case of Alexander v. Danek Chemicals, the plaintiff sued the manufacturer of synthetic iliac bone graft material for negligent manufacturing.

Such cases do not necessarily end with verdicts against the medical practitioner. In the latter case, the court ruled in the defendant’ favor as the plaintiff failed to submit conclusive evidence that the device was defective.

Therefore, the orthopaedic surgeon must present their evidence against negligence and medical malpractice. For example, a procedure is on the positive side of a court case if the evidence proves that it could have saved the patient's life. The same verdict applies if it improved their overall health.

Animation is a powerful tool to illustrate negligence or lack thereof. It will show the jury how allograft, autograft, or synthetic bone grafts should be performed step-by-step. This way, the animation can indicate errors and improper activities by a negligent surgeon.

Litigation is a critical event with potentially damning consequences. An orthopedic surgeon must first perform any procedure with the utmost care. Second, have clear and written agreements with the patient, so there is a binding agreement to go back to in case of conflict. Finally, they must be capable of presenting their case in court and especially prove their diligence where they are not guilty.


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