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Delayed Diagnosis of Compartment Syndrome

Delayed Diagnosis of Compartment Syndrome

If you or your loved one has been left with complications because doctors failed to diagnose and treat compartment syndrome, you could be entitled to pursue a medical negligence claim. For more information about claiming compensation, get in touch with a solicitor today.

Compartment syndrome complications

Compartment syndrome is when pressure increases within a fascial compartment. Fascial compartments are confined spaces through which blood vessels, nerves and muscle tissue run. They are made of a membrane layer and can be found around muscles.

Pressure may increase within a fascial compartment due to any type of injury that causes swelling - such as a fracture. However, when this happens the blood vessels will be compressed and the blood supply will be blocked. Blood carries oxygen, meaning the surrounding muscles will become ischaemic - meaning deficient in oxygen.

After a short time, oxygen deficiency will cause the muscle tissue to break down. If left untreated this will become increasingly extensive until eventually the muscle becomes necrotic, meaning it dies. Once the muscle is necrotic it cannot be saved and must instead be surgically removed. This can lead to a number of serious complications, including:-

  • Permanent nerve damage;
  • Permanent muscle damage;
  • Reduced or total loss of function;
  • Amputation;
  • Permanent scarring from fasciotomy procedure;
  • Organ damage or failure;
  • Death (although this is very rare).

Claiming for delayed diagnosis of compartment syndrome

It is therefore of the utmost importance that compartment syndrome is diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, as this is the only way to prevent the complications listed above. As long as the pressure is relieved via a surgical procedure (called a fasciotomy) quickly, the blood supply to the muscles will be restored and irreparable damage will be avoided. Some medical experts suggest this must be done within six hours of the onset of symptoms. If there is a delay, the lack of oxygen will cause the tissue to die and complications will ensue.

If medical professionals are to blame for a delay in treatment - perhaps because they failed to make a diagnosis - they will be held responsible for a patient's complications. This is because any reasonably competent medical professional should be able to recognise compartment syndrome and appreciate the need for urgent treatment. A failure to do so will amount to a substandard level of medical care. A patient who is injured because of unacceptable medical care is entitled to pursue a claim for compensation.

If you would like to find out more about claiming compensation for compartment syndrome, contact us today.

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