Leg length discrepancy following hip arthroplasty is relatively common. Usually, the discrepancy is 1 cm or less. A discrepancy of 1 inch is concerning. Before considering whether the outcome is a result of medical malpractice, you should make sure that you have completed your treatment, including making repeated reports of the discrepancy. The actual measure of discrepancy can be determined with diagnostic imaging studies that your treating physician can order. The goal is to determine "true" rather than "apparent" discrepancy. Sometimes, it may look or feel like the discrepancy is greater than it actually is, and the length achieved intraoperatively is within normal limits.
Relatively minor discrepancies can be resolved through physical therapy, orthotic shoe inserts, or other conservative treatments. In these cases, litigation is probably not necessary since the discrepancy is a normal complication of the procedure, one that can occur even without negligence.
If the discrepancy is more serious, it can adversely effect hip biomechanics, including femoral offset. Significant discrepancies can be a risk factor for nerve injury and are a relatively, and due to the severity, should be avoided. Doctors should always act reasonably to minimize any discrepancy. Discrepancies of greater than 1 cm generally should not occur, and in fact, these are the kinds of cases that generally proceed to litigation.
You should make sure that you've had a thorough examination from your treating medical providers, including diagnostic imaging. This includes physical examination to determine true and apparent leg length, and radiographic evaluation to compare preoperative and postoperative length.
If you have a true leg length discrepancy of greater than 1 cm, then you should contact a local attorney that practices medical malpractice law. He or she can likely work with medical experts to determine whether or not the discrepancy is the result of a breach of the standard of care. Only then can you know whether or not malpractice has occurred.
DISCLAIMER: THIS ANSWER IS INTENDED AS INFORMATION ONLY, IT SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED OR RELIED ON AS FORMAL LEGAL ADVICE. ONLY AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE IN YOUR JURISDICTION, AND WHO IS ACQUAINTED WITH THE RELEVANT FACTS, CAN GIVE YOU FORMAL LEGAL ADVICE.
Medical malpractice cause of action depends on many factors and facts that you have not provided here. The answer to your question solely based on what you have written is "Not necessarily." Just because the results of a medical procedure is not perfect it does not mean that malpractice has taken place.
I hope this helps-
Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Illinois only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for informational purposes only.
Possible.... the real question that first has to be answered is does the difference cause you any serious problems? The defense in a med mal case such as this will have a field day showing your prior disability (before surgery) and comparing it to your present condition. If your walking without a walker or cane and were using one before it becomes very difficult for a jury to help you. A review of your medical records and intra-operative films would be required to tell if the docotor made any mistakes in the surgery or if this was an unavoidable side effect.
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