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Septic Arthritis Claims

Septic arthritis compensation guide

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Claiming for septic arthritis

Arthritis, in any form, is incredibly debilitating. However, the effects of septic arthritis can be particularly devastating. Septic arthritis is a bacterial infection that targets the joints of the human body. The most frequently affected joints are the knees and hips, but the condition often develops in the wrist, shoulder, ankle or elbow as well. Symptoms include redness or swelling around a joint and severe pain or restricted movement in the joint itself.

Everyone is potentially vulnerable to septic arthritis, but there are several factors associated with increased risk of contracting the condition. Some examples of these risk factors are: recent joint injury or joint surgery, necessary use of prosthetic limbs, drug use and poor immune system. Patients, who already suffer from certain types or arthritis, like rheumatoid, are also especially susceptible to developing septic arthritis.

Septic arthritis occurs as the result of an infection, which means it’s caused by bacteria entering the body and multiplying. This can happen in several ways, whether bacteria travel through the bloodstream from other infected areas or enter the joint directly via an open injury. Complications during routine medical procedures such as joint surgeries or hospital investigations can also lead to infections, which may eventually develop into septic arthritis. In extreme cases, septic arthritis can cause blood poisoning, which is occasionally fatal. Thankfully, most infections are diagnosed and treated long before they progress to that stage. But, in cases of medical negligence, this is often not the case.

If you have contracted septic arthritis due to receiving negligent medical care, you may have a claim. With a wealth of specialist knowledge in medical negligence cases, we can provide advice, support and guidance throughout the process. There are no upfront fees or payments, so talk to Your Legal Friend today for more information.

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Our expert team will call you...

Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of medical malpractice cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a medical negligence case.

Our Septic Arthritis expert team. We deal with medical negligence claims arising from Septic Arthritis.

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our medical negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value medical negligence cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation.  Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006.  Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors, call us now on 0151 550 5228(calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

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10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
Step
86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

What is septic arthritis?

Septic arthritis is a bacterial infection that causes a severe inflammation in one or more of the joints, most commonly the hips or knees.

It is vital that a patient receives an early, accurate diagnosis and emergency treatment to help prevent the significant worsening of the condition. If a patient is left untreated, septic arthritis can quickly spread, causing permanent and severe joint damage which can result in the amputation of the affected limb.  In some cases, septic arthritis can be life threatening.

What causes septic arthritis?

  • Bacteria entering a wound and travelling through the bloodstream to the affected joint is the most common cause of septic arthritis.
  • Following an injury / skin infection
  • During surgery
  • Previously damaged joints, especially if caused by rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis - caused by bacteria involving the body’s immune system, most commonly gastrointestinal (stomach/bowels) but also genitor-urinary infections, especially those caused by Chlamydia. Other types of bacteria include Salmonella, Campylobacter and Clostridium Difficile - C-diff (linked with antibiotics).
  • Prosthetic joint infections (PJIs) – caused by local infections acquired in the operating room, which could be:
    • Early - within 3 months of attachment
    • Delayed - within 3-24 months of attachment
    • Later – after 24 months of attachment

Other risk factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • Diabetes
  • Infection with HIV
Read less

What are the symptoms of septic arthritis?

  • The symptoms of septic arthritis usually develop rapidly including:
  • Joint swelling
  • Intense pain in the affected joint
  • Inability to move the limb with the infected joint
  • Warmth - red and warm to touch
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue and weakness

How do you diagnose septic arthritis?

If an experienced doctor or GP suspects septic arthritis, they should immediately refer the patient to hospital for further examination and the following clinical tests:

Arthrocentesis – a surgical puncture of the joint using a needle and syringe to take a sample of the joint lubricant, known as synovial fluid.

The fluid is sent to a laboratory and analysed to determine:

  • Inflammation and infection – by an increased number of white blood cells.
  • Type of bacteria - and susceptibility to a variety of antibiotics.

In many cases the results of the above tests will be ‘normal’, so cannot be relied upon to rule out infection.

Blood tests - are also frequently used to make a white blood cell count and detect inflammation throughout the body.

Imaging tests - can sometimes be used to help confirm a diagnosis:

  • X-ray image - of the joint can help to detect injury of the bone adjacent to the joint and may show a slight increase in joint space tissue swelling.
  • MRI scan - to evaluate the extent of joint fluid or effusion, joint damage and abnormalities in the bone marrow.  Detection sensitivity is around 67% and specific detection is around 98%.
  • Ultrasound - to detect swelling of the joints.
Read less

How is septic arthritis treated?

Septic arthritis must be urgently treated by admittance to hospital, usually for at least two weeks, to undergo a course of antibiotics to prevent the rapid spread of the infection. These antibiotics are directly injected into the veins. An orthopaedic surgeon may also drain the infected joint using a needle and syringe.

If the infection has reached an advanced stage, an emergency ‘surgical washout’ may be needed to preserve the joint and prevent further deterioration which could lead to the amputation of the affected limb.

Once the course of intravenous antibiotics is complete, further antibiotic tablets will need to be taken at home for at least another four weeks.

A complete recovery should be made although some people could still experience persistent limited movement in the affected joint.

Read less

Septic arthritis – do I have grounds for a negligence claim?

If you or a member of your family suffered harm due to a medical error, you need to know why you were so badly let down by those entrusted to take care of you.  For example, 

  • If a doctor, GP or hospital fails or delays in diagnosing and treating septic arthritis, or
  • If you or a loved one suffered complications from the diagnosis and/or treatment of septic arthritis, which led to a preventable amputation.

To prove a successful clinical negligence claim

You need to:

  • Show that the treatment you received fell below a standard that a reasonable body of medical opinion would find acceptable. 
  • Establish that if there had not been a ‘breach of duty’, the damage or injury would not have occurred.
Read less

Septic arthritis is a bacterial infection that causes a severe inflammation in one or more of the joints, most commonly the hips or knees.

It is vital that a patient receives an early, accurate diagnosis and emergency treatment to help prevent the significant worsening of the condition. If a patient is left untreated, septic arthritis can quickly spread, causing permanent and severe joint damage which can result in the amputation of the affected limb.  In some cases, septic arthritis can be life threatening.

  • Bacteria entering a wound and travelling through the bloodstream to the affected joint is the most common cause of septic arthritis.
  • Following an injury / skin infection
  • During surgery
  • Previously damaged joints, especially if caused by rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis - caused by bacteria involving the body’s immune system, most commonly gastrointestinal (stomach/bowels) but also genitor-urinary infections, especially those caused by Chlamydia. Other types of bacteria include Salmonella, Campylobacter and Clostridium Difficile - C-diff (linked with antibiotics).
  • Prosthetic joint infections (PJIs) – caused by local infections acquired in the operating room, which could be:
    • Early - within 3 months of attachment
    • Delayed - within 3-24 months of attachment
    • Later – after 24 months of attachment

Other risk factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • Diabetes
  • Infection with HIV
Read less
  • The symptoms of septic arthritis usually develop rapidly including:
  • Joint swelling
  • Intense pain in the affected joint
  • Inability to move the limb with the infected joint
  • Warmth - red and warm to touch
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue and weakness

If an experienced doctor or GP suspects septic arthritis, they should immediately refer the patient to hospital for further examination and the following clinical tests:

Arthrocentesis – a surgical puncture of the joint using a needle and syringe to take a sample of the joint lubricant, known as synovial fluid.

The fluid is sent to a laboratory and analysed to determine:

  • Inflammation and infection – by an increased number of white blood cells.
  • Type of bacteria - and susceptibility to a variety of antibiotics.

In many cases the results of the above tests will be ‘normal’, so cannot be relied upon to rule out infection.

Blood tests - are also frequently used to make a white blood cell count and detect inflammation throughout the body.

Imaging tests - can sometimes be used to help confirm a diagnosis:

  • X-ray image - of the joint can help to detect injury of the bone adjacent to the joint and may show a slight increase in joint space tissue swelling.
  • MRI scan - to evaluate the extent of joint fluid or effusion, joint damage and abnormalities in the bone marrow.  Detection sensitivity is around 67% and specific detection is around 98%.
  • Ultrasound - to detect swelling of the joints.
Read less

Septic arthritis must be urgently treated by admittance to hospital, usually for at least two weeks, to undergo a course of antibiotics to prevent the rapid spread of the infection. These antibiotics are directly injected into the veins. An orthopaedic surgeon may also drain the infected joint using a needle and syringe.

If the infection has reached an advanced stage, an emergency ‘surgical washout’ may be needed to preserve the joint and prevent further deterioration which could lead to the amputation of the affected limb.

Once the course of intravenous antibiotics is complete, further antibiotic tablets will need to be taken at home for at least another four weeks.

A complete recovery should be made although some people could still experience persistent limited movement in the affected joint.

Read less

If you or a member of your family suffered harm due to a medical error, you need to know why you were so badly let down by those entrusted to take care of you.  For example, 

  • If a doctor, GP or hospital fails or delays in diagnosing and treating septic arthritis, or
  • If you or a loved one suffered complications from the diagnosis and/or treatment of septic arthritis, which led to a preventable amputation.

To prove a successful clinical negligence claim

You need to:

  • Show that the treatment you received fell below a standard that a reasonable body of medical opinion would find acceptable. 
  • Establish that if there had not been a ‘breach of duty’, the damage or injury would not have occurred.
Read less