Litigation after hip and knee replacement in the national health service

Article English OPEN
McWilliams, AB ; Douglas, SL ; Redmond, AC ; Grainger, AJ ; OConnor, PJ ; Stewart, T ; Stone, MH (2013)
  • Publisher: British Editorial Society of Bone & Joint Surgery
  • Subject:
    mesheuropmc: musculoskeletal diseases

The results of hip and knee replacement surgery are generally regarded as positive for patients. Nonetheless, they are both major operations and have recognised complications. We present a review of relevant claims made to the National Health Service Litigation Authority. Between 1995 and 2010 there were 1004 claims to a value of £41.5 million following hip replacement surgery and 523 claims to a value of £21 million for knee replacement. The most common complaint after hip surgery was related to residual neurological deficit, whereas after knee replacement it was related to infection. Vascular complications resulted in the highest costs per case in each group.Although there has been a large increase in the number of operations performed, there has not been a corresponding relative increase in litigation. The reasons for litigation have remained largely unchanged over time after hip replacement. In the case of knee replacement, although there has been a reduction in claims for infection, there has been an increase in claims for technical errors. There has also been a rise in claims for non-specified dissatisfaction. This information is of value to surgeons and can be used to minimise the potential mismatch between patient expectation, informed consent and outcome.
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