New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers for Parents of Children with Delayed Diagnosis of DDH
A delay in diagnosing developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) can rob a baby of the opportunity to get an effective treatment that almost always corrects the condition without surgery. After a child is four months old, the non-invasive approach is no longer an option. DDH can be corrected at this stage, but: Surgery is required.
Multiple surgeries may be necessary, including those that reshape the bones. After the surgeries, the patient must spend weeks or months in a hard body cast that keeps the legs far apart. Not only uncomfortable, the prolonged casting can lead to skin infections. Young DDH patients who receive surgical treatment may need hip replacement surgery in middle age. All of this pain, suffering, and expense may have been avoided if the doctor had correctly diagnosed developmental dysplasia of the hip immediately after birth or during a well-baby check. When a child suffers because a doctor made a mistake, the child’s parents can pursue financial compensation by filing a medical malpractice claim on their child’s behalf.
Experienced Malpractice Lawyers Who Get Results
The medical malpractice attorneys of Team Law are experienced in cases involving a delayed diagnosis of developmental dysplasia of the hip. Our law firm has won millions of dollars in financial compensation for clients harmed by medical malpractice. We can help you, too. Did your child’s doctor fail to diagnose DDH before your baby was four months old? Please contact Team Law online or call (732) 388-5454. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and advise you of your legal options.
Medical malpractice attorney Roy J. Konray has experience representing clients in cases involving a delayed diagnosis of developmental dysplasia of the hip. He understands the legal and medical issues involved.
What Is Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip?
A diagnosis of DDH means that the bones of the hip joint are not aligned correctly. The joint is so loose that the ball of the joint (femoral head) can easily come out of the socket (the acetabulum). The condition is not painful in infants but must be corrected or the hip joint will later become painful and wear out quickly. One or two out of every 1,000 infants must be treated for DDH.
How Is DDH Diagnosed?
Doctors screen for hip dysplasia after a baby is born and at well-baby visits using the following two maneuvers:
- The Barlow maneuver puts gentle pressure on the ball of the hip joint. In babies with DDH, this gentle pressure is enough to dislocate the hip. It does not hurt the baby. The hip joints of infants with DDH are so loose, their hips can easily become dislocated.
- The Ortolani maneuver repositions a dislocated femoral head back into the hip socket. When performed correctly, the doctor will hear a distinctive “clunk” and feel the ball slipping back into the socket.
- If a click or clunk is elicited during the Barlow or Ortolani maneuvers, the doctor may be required to order an ultrasound or refer the child to a pediatric orthopedist as soon as possible.
How Do Delays in Diagnosing Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip Occur?
Delayed diagnosis can happen when doctors misinterpret hip clicks and clunks. In addition to the clunk of the ball sliding back into the hip socket, the hip joint can make clicking sounds. Hip clicks are benign — like knuckle cracking — but they can be mistaken for clunks and vice versa. Doctors may encounter a clunk, misinterpret it as a harmless click and fail to take further action. This can lead to an extended delay in diagnosis.
When a doctor fails to diagnose developmental dysplasia of the hip in an infant, the problem may not be detected for months or sometimes years. DDH can be a “silent” condition that often does not cause pain or other obvious symptoms in babies and young children. Sometimes DDH is not diagnosed until adolescence or early adulthood when pain or limping develops.
How Is DDH treated?
Treatment varies depending on the age of the patient, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:
- Newborns: For the vast majority of infants, DDH can be corrected by wearing a removable brace called the Pavlik harness for one to two months.
- One to six months old: These babies may respond to a more rigid brace or may require a surgical procedure called a closed reduction and tenotomy (cutting the adductor tendon). For months after surgery, the baby must wear a Spica cast, a hard cast that spreads the child’s legs far apart. The Spica cast is removed and replaced with a new Spica cast after six weeks. After the last cast is removed, the patient must wear a removable brace for several months, first full time, then only at night.
- Six months to two years: These patients are treated with a closed reduction, tenotomy, and Spica casting. Sometimes traction is necessary. If these procedures are unsuccessful, a more aggressive surgery, called an open reduction is performed and followed by months of Spica casting. In some cases, a procedure called an osteotomy, which reshapes the bones of the hip and/or pelvis is required.
- Older than two years: By this age, open reduction casting will probably be required; osteotomy may be necessary. Sometimes metal plates and pins must be inserted to rebuild the joint. Additional surgeries may be required when the child gets older.
How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?
The medical malpractice attorneys of Team Law understand what you are going through and know how to help. We will pursue financial compensation for the full extent of damages, including pain and suffering, disability, current and future medical expenses and more. Treatment for DDH requires a great deal of support from parents. It can be a long and trying journey. You can trust the attorneys at Team Law to pursue your legal claim so that you can focus on your child’s treatment and recovery. To arrange a free initial consultation, please contact us online or call (732) 388-5454.
Team Law serves clients throughout Essex, Hudson, Union and Middlesex counties and throughout NJ from many convenient office locations including Clark, West New York, Edison, Newark, Orange, Jersey City, Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, and Middletown.