What do I do about possible malpractice if a doctor left part of a broken needle in my knee?

UPDATED: Aug 3, 2011

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What do I do about possible malpractice if a doctor left part of a broken needle in my knee?

I’ve suffered from knee pain for 8+ yrs. Within the past 18 months it has been unbearable with pain and stiffness. An X-ray taken 1 year ago did not show anything. Then 2 weeks ago I saw my general doctor; this time she ordered bilateral X-rays of my knee. X-rays revealed a 10mm linear line (as described by my doctor) on the inner part of my right knee. I told my doctor that I had seen an ortho surgeon 7 years ago and received a cortisone injection in my right knee. My doctor is guessing that the broken off hypodermic needle that was used was left in my knee. What do I do? Do I have a legal recourse?

Asked on August 3, 2011 California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Medical malpractice is based on negligence.  The opinion of your current doctor and the X-rays will be of critical importance in establishing negligence on the part of the orthopedist, who gave you the cortisone injection.  You should obtain your medical reports, medical bills and documentation of any wage loss due to your knee injury. 

Prior to filing a lawsuit, it may be possible to settle the case with the orthopedist's insurance carrier.  Your claim will consist of the medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine the amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, file your lawsuit for negligence against the orthopedist.  You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter. 

It would be advisable to speak with a medical malpractice attorney.

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