How To Tackle A Bone Graft Case In Court

Bone graft is a surgical procedure that saves lives. It isn’t void of medical malpractice battles. Hence, animation can be used to illustrate the procedure.
Bone Graft
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Bone graft refers to a surgical procedure that involves transplanting or replacing a fractured or shattered bone. It can also be used to regrow and improve the structure of a diseased or defective bone.

Bone graft is not always needed in all fracture cases as the bone itself has properties that make it possible to regenerate completely. The bone is structured in a way that it contains cells that helps it form, maintain balance and aid its structure and function.

Hence, not all cases of fractures require a bone graft. Patients with minor fractures can be treated without a bone graft, but if the fracture or injury to the bone is quite large, complex, and poses a threat to the victim’s life, a bone graft may be needed to rescue the situation.

In addition, a bone graft can also be employed in a case where injury to the bone left to heal naturally fails to do so. There are cases where certain fractures to the bone fail to self-heal after a long time; a bone graft is also a solution that can be employed to fix such a situation.

Furthermore, a bone graft can be employed in the case of malunion of the bone. A bone allowed to self-heal can form into an abnormal position while healing. A bone graft can also be used to correct this abnormal growth in the bone structure.

Types of Bone Grafts

A bone graft can be done using various methods. What differentiates one approach from the other is the kind of bone or material used during the transplant or replacement of the bone. Below are some of the different types of bone grafts.

  1. Autograft

Autograft bone graft refers to the method of bone transplantation where the bone being transplanted is removed from a non-essential bone in the body of the victim. It requires a double opening of the patient as a bone has to be cut out from one part to be placed in another part.

Using this method, the amount of bone extracted for use may be limited so as not to negatively affect the part of the body where it’s removed from, and a patient may experience pain where the bone has been extracted from. 

The bone to be used for the replacement can be removed from the ribs, hips, pelvis, or wrist. However, it’s often removed from the iliac crest.

The iliac crest bone graft involves removing bone from the iliac crest, the curved area at the top of the ilium bone, and the largest of three bones that make up the pelvis. 

  1. Allograft

This method refers to using bone tissues from another donor or a cadaver to perform the necessary filling up required to complete the graft. 

This method is considered safer as it does not require another surgery to remove bone tissue from the patient’s body. Hence, wounds from the surgery will heal faster, and the time used to carry out the surgery will be reduced. 

It also reduces the risks of infection as the bone being used has been properly cleaned and processed before it is stored in a tissue bank. 

The allograft bone graft method is also considered faster as it does not contain living cells, reducing the risk of rejection due to incompatibility of blood type between the patient and a donor.

  1. Synthetic Bone Graft

This method of bone graft employs the use of artificially produced materials instead of bones extracted from a cadaver or the patient. It has its advantage as it reduces the risk of infections associated with the other two methods. Since the bone substitutes are produced beforehand, availability and quantity of bone replacements aren’t a problem.

Legal Side of Using A Bone Graft Procedure

According to a publication in The Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, it was stated that “over two million bone grafting procedures are performed every year, with more than 500,000 implanted in the US alone.”

This shows how frequently this procedure is being carried out to save lives worldwide.

Also, a market analysis report by Grand View Research valued the global bone grafts and substitutes market size at USD 2.91 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% from 2022 to 2030.

This suggests that this method will become increasingly acceptable in treating the rising incidence of bone and joint disorders.

However, the prevalent use of this method is not without its woes, as it can lead to an increase in litigation battles surrounding the use of bone graft procedures. The litigation battles can either be on the positive side or the negative. 

A bone graft procedure can be said to be on the positive side in a court case if it showcases how a bone graft procedure could have saved a patient’s life or helped them gain sound health. An example of such a scenario is the case of Gormley v. Stover, where the plaintiff sued a medical practitioner alleging that he was negligent in his treatment by recommending a skin graft rather than a bone graft to improve her ability to wear dentures.

If a synthetic bone graft is being used, there can also be legal issues surrounding such a procedure if the artificially made materials cause harm to the plaintiff. 

An example of such a case would be the case of Alexander v. Danek Medical where the plaintiff sued the defendant, who is a manufacturer of the material used during an iliac crest bone graft. The defendant was sued for negligence in the manufacture and design of its pedicle screw fixation device. 

Best Way To Approach A Bone Graft Case In Court

Bone graft cases about negligence during the procedure can be charged in court, and one of the best ways to illustrate the negligence or not on the part of the orthopedic surgeon is with the help of animation.

Animation can be used to illustrate an allograft, autograft, or synthetic bone graft procedure to the jury to show the proper way the procedure is meant to be performed.

On the other hand, in a case of negligence, animation can illustrate errors and improper procedures carried out during the bone graft.

An attorney looking to handle a bone graft case will be on the right part to winning such a case if they employ a visual legal strategy in the form of animation to illustrate the step-by-step procedure required to carry out the bone graft.
This animation can be created with the help of a medical animation company that is familiar with the nooks and crannies of creating winning medical animation for legal use.

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