The amputation of a limb is a disfiguring and disabling injury that lasts a lifetime. Under the best of circumstances, a patient who has lost a limb – an arm or leg – faces a difficult recovery that includes extensive physical and psychological therapy.
On top of the physical and mental pain and suffering caused by the loss of a limb, an amputation victim will face significant medical bills and some loss in his or her ability to work for a living and participate in recreational activities, as well as increased difficulty in performing the tasks of daily living.
Causes of Traumatic Limb Loss & Amputation
Amputation of a limb (arm, leg) that occurs in an accident is known as a “traumatic amputation.” In some cases, a medical amputation is necessary to remove a limb that has been irreparably injured in an accident, such as after being crushed in a car crash or severely burned in an electrocution. Sometimes a severed body part can be reattached after an accident or an amputee can be helped by the use of a prosthetic (artificial) limb.
Traumatic amputations of limbs may result from incidents such as:
- Motor vehicle accidents, such as a rollover accident in a car or truck, or being hit by a car while on a motorcycle or bicycle, or while on foot (pedestrian).
- Power tool and machinery accidents, including workplace and farming accidents.
- A heavy object falling onto a limb.
- Severe burns from fire or explosions, including from fireworks.
- Electrical or chemical burns.
Nearly 2 million people in the United States live with the loss of a limb, the Amputee Coalition says.
The National Institute of Health’s Medline Plus website says new limb-replantation techniques have been moderately successful, but incomplete nerve regeneration continues to be a major factor affecting full use of reattached limbs. Accordingly, Medline Plus concludes that a properly fitting, functional prosthesis is often more helpful to the patient than a nonfunctional replanted limb.
Amputation & Loss-of-Limb Accidents Are Costly
he Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says in a widely cited study of health-care costs associated with amputation or reconstruction of an injured limb that the projected average lifetime cost for patients who had undergone amputation was more than $509,275 in 2002, or $674,720 when adjusted for inflation, three times more than the costs for those treated with limb reconstruction.
The study calculates costs for:
- Initial hospitalization.
- Additional hospitalizations related to the limb loss and reattachment.
- Inpatient rehabilitation.
- Outpatient visits to doctors.
- Outpatient physical and occupational therapy.
- Buying and maintaining prosthetic limbs.
The study did not take into account other costs related to limb loss, such as lost wages, pain and suffering, and reduced quality of life.
Washington law allows victims of traumatic amputation caused by others’ negligence or recklessness to pursue personal injury lawsuits for financial restitution. These legal claims, most often paid through insurance, are meant to make the victim whole again financially.
common causes resulting in loss of a limb:
- Traffic collisions
- Workplace incidents
- Electrical shocks
- Firearms and explosives
- Medical Malpractice
- Dangerous drugs
- Dangerous medical devices
- Unsafe products
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