(08HDC02404, 22 December 2008)
Orthopaedic surgeon ~ Private
hospital ~ Public hospital ~ Hip replacement ~ Dislocation ~
Information ~ Co-ordination of care ~ Rights 4(1), Right
A 62-year-old man complained about the services provided by an
orthopaedic surgeon, who performed his bilateral total hip joint
replacements at a private hospital. The man's right hip dislocated
the following morning when a ward nurse turned him to inspect his
wound. The orthopaedic surgeon was notified and the man was
returned to theatre where the hip was relocated under anaesthetic.
He was discharged home after six days.
The man's left hip dislocated during the first night he was at
home. He was taken by ambulance to a public hospital where the
dislocation was reduced under anaesthetic. Three days later, his
left hip dislocated again and was relocated at the public hospital.
The orthopaedic surgeon was contacted by the public hospital
orthopaedic team and the options for treating the man were
discussed. Within 24 hours the man returned with a further
dislocation of his left hip. The hip was relocated and he was
discharged with a hip splint and an appointment for the orthopaedic
outpatient clinic. Later that day his hip again dislocated and he
was returned to the public hospital. The orthopaedic surgeon was
contacted and the decision was made to admit the man.
The man's hip joint replacements were replaced. He developed a
wound infection and was referred to the infectious diseases team.
Unfortunately the antibiotics required to combat the infection
resulted in vertigo, which remained a problem a year later.
It was held that the orthopaedic surgeon did not provide
sufficient information about the expected risks, including possible
dislocation, and breached Right 6(1)(b). It was also held that the
standard of the surgery was suboptimal, breaching Right 4(1).
It was held that the man received appropriate treatment and care
from the private and public hospitals, and that they did not breach