AAOS Recognizes Failures in Diagnosing Compartment Syndrome

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Compartment syndrome is a dangerous condition that occurs when swelling in one “compartment” of the body is unable to self-alleviate due to restrictions the construction of the body places on fluid moving from one zone to another. When the pressure from excess fluid builds to dangerous levels, organs can lose oxygenation, resulting in cell death and ultimately amputation of the limb affected.

Because of the dangers it presents, compartment syndrome must be diagnosed and treated quickly, before the excess build-up reaches a critical level. Thankfully, certain conditions are highly associated with compartment syndrome, and patients suffering those conditions should be aggressively diagnosed. These conditions include patients who have suffered significant trauma to an extremity and patients with certain blood clotting disorders.

Unfortunately, missed diagnoses of compartment syndrome are terrifyingly common, and often result in lost limbs or even death for patients who were treatable if proper diagnostics had taken place swiftly. Surgical intervention usually alleviates the need for amputation.

Recognizing the lack of consistent diagnostic acumen among its members in regard to compartment syndrome, the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) has released new guidelines regarding how to look for this devastating condition. These guidelines align with common sense, offering a list of diseases and traumatic events that often present with a comorbidity with compartment syndrome. The guidelines also offer numerical markers of pressure consistent with compartment system to ease diagnosis.

If you or someone you love has suffered unnecessarily due to a delayed diagnosis of compartment syndrome, please consider consulting with an experienced attorney. A qualified lawyer will work with you and experts to determine whether or not proper diagnostic procedures were followed in your case.