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1st Person: My Post-Op Problems Were Brushed Aside


Instead of enjoying a full recovery, Herminia Briones experienced distressing new symptoms the year following her knee-replacement surgery.

My knee and lower leg were very red and swollen. During those times, I was told by the [physical] therapist to see the orthopedic surgeon, on top of my usual post-op visits, which I did. At each of those times and my other post-op visits, I complained of the pain and the swelling but the surgeon said that it was normal and it takes about a year for the knee to completely heal.

Although Briones' surgeon treated her for scar adhesions and then a blood clot, it was her primary care doctor who discovered that her knee was badly infected. The implant had to be removed.

One would think that the [surgeon] should have worked on eliminating the higher risk possibilities of why my knee was in pain and swollen. He did not order any tests to rule out infection until my primary physician flagged it down. I even recall telling him in one of my visits that I could have an infection, but he did not follow through with my suspicion.

Through most of the next year, Briones and her daughter, Maria attempted to retrace the steps of Briones' care, talking with the surgeon, the hospital's infectious disease physicians and the director of the hospital's surgical and orthopedic unit. Briones was facing another attempt at knee implant surgery the following year and she wanted to make sure that the same things did not go wrong.

No one was willing to accept error. The surgeon even suggested that I could have acquired my infection from my tooth brush!

Several individuals advised me to sue, and I thought about it seriously. My family advised me not to sue since doing so would mean I would need to have a different surgeon to put my knee implant back and we would be back to square one with a new surgeon. My daughter also felt that because of her confrontations with the surgeon and everyone, they would be more careful in handling me moving forward.

As for me, I decided against it because of inner beliefs and faith. I just thought'that if God had been so kind and caring for me, I see no reason why I cannot use this negative incident and turn it to a positive situation.

Briones used her experience as an opportunity to educate her healthcare providers about being more willing to look for complications and listening to their patients' concerns.


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1st Person posts spotlight a patient’s or caregiver’s health care experience.

Tags for this article:
Accidents and Safety   Inside Healthcare   First Person   Make Good Treatment Decisions   Participate in your Treatment  

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