Considering Surgery After an Injury

Chronic-pain-300x190When you suffer a painful injury, it’s normal to want the quickest solution to end the discomfort, particularly when the pain affects your quality of life or ability to work. For instance, an avid runner with a knee injury is left unable to practice the sport they love and enjoy the benefits of being physically fit. In many cases, pain from an injury can negatively affect a person’s ability to perform the qualifications required by their job and earn a living. A construction worker required to lift heavy loads will be negatively affected by a shoulder injury and unable to adequately perform their job requirements. If your ability to enjoy a certain quality of life or make enough money to support your family has been compromised due to an injury you suffered in an accident, discuss your legal options with a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer. Attorney David Tapalian will ensure your legal rights are protected and you receive the proper medical treatment needed to regain your quality of living.

When Surgery is Recommended

When receiving treatment after an injury you suffered in an accident, your doctor will recommend a plan of care. A number of factors will be accounted for when advising what medical care options are best now, and potentially in the future.  Depending on the type of injury and what body part is affected, surgery may be recommended by your physician. If the injury was a result of negligence, like an auto accident or motorcycle crash, the insurance company’s medical opinion will also be taken into consideration. The insurance company representing the at-fault party will consult with their own team of medical experts to make recommendations based on what is in the best interest of protecting the company and assessing liability. Sometimes surgery will be the most effective option, however there may also be alternative methods of care to consider, like physical therapy, although not all medical professionals will take these into consideration or discuss them with the patient.

Medical providers may be quick to recommend a surgical procedure over alternate routes of treatment, as some providers have a financial incentive from the insurance companies. This benefits the insurance company by allowing them to obtain a quick solution and close the personal injury claim, therefore protecting them from further liability and costs.  In the long run, more conservative alternatives to surgery like physical therapy, drug therapy, and activity modifications, may take longer to respond to treatment even if they prove just as effective. The longer the treatment and recovery process continues, the longer the insurance company continues to be responsible which over time, increases cost and liability for them. In addition, there is the risk that the patient’s body doesn’t respond as successfully to the alternate method and the insurance company ends up having to pay for surgery anyway. As personal injury attorneys know, insurance companies want to do everything they can to minimize cost and liability and so they tend to take what is called a “find it and fix it” approach. Like anything, there are pros and cons.

Risks to Surgery

When a patient considers surgery, there are disadvantages to take into account which include cost, risks involved, and weeks or months of recovery. With any type of surgery, there is always a risk of complications and not always a guarantee that the procedure will be successful. In some cases, surgery may lead to a faster onset of osteoarthritis down the road, which can be the case when undergoing surgical repair for a torn meniscus.  It can also increase the risk of the patient contracting other conditions in the operating room environment, like staph infection.

Another point to note is that in the U.S., surgeries are not approved or regulated by a state or federal agency, unlike pharmaceutical drugs which are regulated by the FDA, and may be rolled out to the public before extensive testing and clinical trials are complete. This can result in an extended period of time where the effectiveness of the operation is not truly known.   

Non-Surgical Therapies May Be Just as Effective in Some Cases

There is no doubt that surgery can, and does, have tremendous effectiveness and benefits, and in many cases, it may be the only option. In the case of an acute injury, such as a traumatic car accident, surgery may be required immediately and be life-saving. But in less severe circumstances, experts are asking patients and providers to pause and consider other options. Some medical professionals are concerned that certain surgeries are overprescribed, and potentially ineffective, when physical therapy may be a more effective option. They want medical providers and insurance companies to fully consider that even when surgery is shown to be effective, it may not necessarily have a significantly better outcome than when a patient is treated for the same condition with a non-surgical plan of care like physical therapy.

For patients who are eligible candidates, doctors may favor physical therapy, activity modifications, and lifestyle changes over surgery, as they are proven safer and just as effective in many cases. For example, over time evidence suggests that surgically repairing a torn meniscus does not offer more benefit than physical therapy to help strengthen surrounding tissues and support the healing process.  Doctors should discuss the best options, surgical and non-surgical, for care with patients so they can make an informed decision.

When choosing the plan of care that is best for you, along with your medical team, patients are urged to take an informed approach. If your injury isn’t severe and in immediate need of attention, consider alternate options to surgery such as physical therapy, exercise, drug therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Sometimes, however, surgery is the best option depending on your situation and how your body responds.

Always Seek Medical Help After an Injury

When you’ve been hurt, no matter how minor your injuries appear at first, it’s critical to get medical attention right away. Throughout your recovery process, make sure to seek legal assistance and ensure your rights are protected. Contact a personal injury lawyer in RI and MA with experience getting injured clients fairly compensated for their damages including hospital bills, ambulance fees, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. At Tapalian Law, our skilled personal injury team has helped hundreds of people in Providence, and throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Florida, ensure they are treated fairly and receive the money they deserve. Call us for a free consultation today at 401-552-5000 or contact us online.








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