Case study #1: Hip replacement (U.S.)

Last February, I posted a report (Anatomy of a Hospital Bill for Major Surgery Performed in the U.S.) about a friend whom I identified as B who was faced with a massive hospital bill after undergoing hip replacement surgery at the end of December. More than six months have passed since the date of my article, and B recently told me that she needs to undergo a follow-up operation to remove the acetabular screw that projects through the medial cortex and into the posterior aspect of her left iliacus muscle. Even though B had had two previous x-rays and an MRI scan, none of those earlier exams had detected the presence of this screw that is the apparent source of her constant pain and inability to heal properly.

B expressed her anxiety about this second operation with these words:

“What a roller coaster! I am having a challenge getting my head wrapped around going through surgery again. I cringe when I think about being pumped with all the drugs and metal again. To be honest I feel a bit discouraged (and scared).”

On the plus side, B sensed that she was going to be treated at a much better hospital whose staff appears to take a genuine interest in her health and well-being. B admitted that she needs to believe that the physical harm and pain caused by the original hip replacement surgery will finally be corrected after this second operation.

Medical Errors Are All-Too Common And Can Lead To Accidental Death

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