Common Factors Behind Podiatry Injury Lawsuits

Podiatrists are tasked with treating a broad spectrum of patients experiencing a range of issues – from traumatic injuries and disorders of the foot and ankle to complications caused by chronic conditions like diabetes and issues that require surgical intervention.

And while the practice of podiatric medicine is a complex and ever-evolving field, these specialists, like all medical providers, have an obligation to treat patients in accordance with an acceptable standard of care. When they fail to do so and patients suffer harm, podiatrists can be held liable for resulting damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

But what constitutes “substandard care?” And when does a podiatrist’s conduct rise to the level of negligence and medical malpractice?

At Brown & Barron, LLC, our team knows it can be difficult for patients to answer these complex questions and determine when they have grounds to pursue a podiatrist malpractice lawsuit. While the best way to find out is to have your case evaluated by an experienced attorney, a look at some of the data behind these cases can provide insight into the most common reasons why claims are filed.

Most Common Claims in Podiatrist Malpractice Suits

A recent study from The Doctors Company, a national medical malpractice insurer, analyzed over 160 podiatrist claims closed between 2015 and 2019 to examine the common factors behind patient injuries and the types of situations that led to claims being filed.

According to the study, the two most common allegations brought by patients had to do with surgical errors. Specifically, they were:

  1. Improper management of the surgical patient. Alleged in 41% of claims studied, these errors involved the quality of care provided to patients after surgery. The most common issues were infections, pain, malunion, fracture, and nerve damage, all of which contributed to delayed recovery, exacerbated pain and suffering, and often the need for revision surgery.
  2. Improper performance of surgery. Alleged in 26% of claims, these allegations were often raised in cases where patients did not experience the outcomes they had expected. It was most raised following bunionectomies (including bunionectomy with osteotomy of the first metatarsal), hammer toe repair, lesion excision, and fusion of the foot.

In addition to identifying top allegations, the study also delved into the various factors that contributed to patient injury claims. The most common involved issues related to:

  • Technical performance. A factor in over 60% of analyzed claims, technical performance issues included errors such as poor technique, wrong surgery/wrong site/wrong patient errors, foreign bodied left behind, and technical or equipment problems. The study noted that these issues largely stemmed from inadequate training, misdiagnoses, and other similar failures.
  • Communication issues. The study found that communication breakdowns between providers and patients/families were a factor in more than a third of studied claims. These issues commonly arose when podiatrists failed to spend enough time with patients, failed to ensure non-English speakers understood their medical advice, and from inadequacies involving informed consent, follow-up/post-surgical instructions, and medication risks.
  • Patient assessment failures. Shortcomings in how podiatrists evaluated their patients were a factor in 31% of filed claims. These included failures to perform adequate patient history evaluations and physicals, failures to consider clinical information in medical records, and diagnostic errors such as misdiagnoses, failure to diagnose, and delayed diagnoses.
  • Treatment or therapy failures. A factor in 29% of claims, these issues arose in situations where podiatrists failed to effectively select or manage treatments and therapies that were a good fit for their patients. Elective surgeries performed on patients who had diabetes, fevers, or were current heavy smokers, for example, often led to poor outcomes. Other examples include medication errors involving failures to order prescriptions, ordering medications that were inappropriate for a patient, or prescribing medications that caused adverse reactions.
  • Documentation errors. The study found that issues of insufficient documentation were a factor in 21% of claims. These issues largely concerned injuries and poor outcomes involving podiatrists whose clinical records lacked details and those who failed to adequately document patient histories, obtain informed consent, and adequately provide instructions upon discharge.

The study goes on to list a variety of strategies that podiatrists can employ to enhance patient safety. Of course, many of these strategies are sensible, straightforward steps that any reasonable provider would be expected to take when caring for patients, but which many providers forget or fail to implement in their day-to-day practice. Unfortunately, these lapses of negligence can have profound and life-changing consequences for victims who suffer injuries as a result.

Have Questions About Podiatrist Malpractice? Brown & Barron, LLC Can Help

Brown & Barron, LLC has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for clients, including those who were harmed by the negligence of physicians and specialists like podiatrists. We know the common causes of podiatrist malpractice and how to help victims seek the maximum compensation possible when settling a podiatrist malpractice case or taking a claim to trial.

If you experienced any of the issues mentioned above prior to suffering harm or have questions about a potential injury cases involving a podiatrist, our attorneys want to help. We proudly serve clients across Maryland and offer FREE and confidential consultations. Call (410) 698-1717 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.

Related Posts
  • Podiatrist Malpractice Data & What It Reveals Read More
  • Podiatry Board Regulations: Ensuring Accountability and Reducing Malpractice Read More
  • Preventing Podiatry Malpractice: Tips for Patients Read More